Feature: Ukraine conflict, energy crisis weigh heavily on Greece’s livestock farmers

KLEITORIA, Greece, May 10– While tending to his sheep, goats and chicken on the family farm in the village of Kleitoria in southern Greece, livestock breeder Diamantis Zournas is constantly calculating his costs. The recent massive increases in energy and animal feed prices caused by the Ukraine crisis have put an unbearable burden on livestock farmers across…

KLEITORIA, Greece, May 10 (Xinhua) — While tending to his sheep, goats and chicken on the family farm in the village of Kleitoria in southern Greece, livestock breeder Diamantis Zournas is constantly calculating his costs.

The recent massive increases in energy and animal feed prices caused by the Ukraine crisis have put an unbearable burden on livestock farmers across Greece, making their business barely viable, they told Xinhua in recent interviews.

Zournas is a fourth-generation livestock farmer. He has a flock of 350 sheep and goats, as well as chicken, and sells his produce in his butcher shop on the village’s square.

“The situation has become unbearable,” he said, as everything is more expensive.

Even a few months ago he still paid 250-300 euros (264-316 U.S. dollars) for electricity. The most recent bills were close to 1,000 euros.

Transport costs have also increased due to the ever higher fuel prices.

“Each week prices are galloping, not just rising. They have already doubled and kept rising. Corn today costs more than 40 cents a kilo, while we used to buy it for 18-19 cents,” he explained.

According to the Hellenic Livestock Association, the prices of barley, clover, hay, soy and wheat have also doubled in the past few months.

Domestic production cannot cover the farmers’ needs. Greece imports around 250,000 tons of animal feed annually from Russia and Ukraine, but the conflict there has created a bottleneck on the export pipelines, the Hellenic Feed Industry Association said.

Meanwhile, the costs of production are skyrocketing, Zournas said.

“I doubt that livestock breeders who do not produce their own feed will be able to make ends meet. They will be forced to sell their herds. It has already started. It is happening,” he said.

Zournas grows part of the feed for his farm, but he is struggling.

During a tour of their silos in Kleitoria, where the local livestock farmers get their animal feed, Pavlos Satolias, president of the National Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Greece – ETHEAS and the local Agricultural Dairy Cooperative, told Xinhua that the situation has been difficult, but it “got so much worse in the past two months” due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Production costs for the cooperative’s 1,200 members have risen by approximately 30 percent in recent months, he said.

“This year, the livestock breeders will probably work without making a living, without making any profit,” Satolias said. “We fear that many of us will leave the industry, which would be a catastrophic development. Here in the countryside, people do not have anything else to make a living. Our villages would become deserted.”

The associations consider the subsidies announced by the government inadequate. They call for more generous support measures so that the sector remains sustainable.

In absence of adequate support in times of crisis, Zournas fears that many of Kleitoria’s 1,000 residents — who depend on their animals — would leave for the urban centers.

Zournas has three sons, but without incentives targeting the younger generations in particular to stay in the industry, he fears that there will not be a fifth generation of breeders in his family. (1 euro = 1.06 U.S. dollars) Enditem

ANA NEWS WIRE Disclaimer:
The African News Agency (ANA) is a news wire service and therefore subscribes to the highest standards of journalism as it relates to accuracy, fairness and impartiality.
ANA strives to provide accurate, well sourced and reliable information across Text, Images and Video. Where errors do appear, ANA will seek to correct these timeously and transparently.
The ANA platform also contains news and information from third party sources. ANA has sought to procure reliable content from trusted news sources but cannot be held responsible for the accuracy and opinions provided by such sources on the ANA platform or linked sites.
The content provided for on the ANA News Wire platform, both through the ANA news operation and via its third party sources, are for the sole use of authorised subscribers and partners. Unauthorised access to and usage of ANA content will be subject to legal steps. ANA reserves its rights in this regard.
ANA makes every effort to ensure that the website is up and running smoothly at all times, however ANA does not take responsibility for, and will not be held liable for times when the website is temporarily unavailable due to technical issues that are beyond our control.