In the southern areas of Central Italy, heavy, persistent rain and floods have caused a critical situation to develop in the countryside. Here, we show some photos taken at the beginning of the 48th week that illustrate the conditions in fields and greenhouses.
A local producer confirms the seriousness of the situation, “Almost a thousand hectares have been completely submerged as a consequence of the river flooding which enlarged the canals thus causing the flooding of the surrounding fields. The photos show the critical conditions that one of the main Lazio region highways experienced. All the traffic has been directed toward secondary routes – and we can only imagine their condition”.
According to the producer, entire ready-to-eat salad, carrot and turnip fields have been completely destroyed. “We are in the middle of a very serious crisis and everyone should take her/his own responsibilities, starting with the Decontamination Consortium. Why do farmers risk being sued if they want to maintain the canals? We would like to see a different attitude towards prevention”.
Stagnation is the real enemy
FreshPlaza contacted an expert in order to better understand the effects on local crops. “The water stagnation duration will be a crucial factor. If the soil water saturation lasts more than 24-48 hours, it could lead to root asphyxiation and therefore to the death of the plants. However, if the water outflow happens more quickly, then some crops will still have a chance”.
Yet, according to the expert, it is necessary to point out that “the farmers who've already made transplants - i.e. courgettes - do not have much to save. It is a different situation from the spinach or the baby spinach one. The first cut could be quite difficult as the fields are flooded, but – if the water will outflow soon – the campaign will not be necessarily compromised”.
With regard to the radish and valerian, “The produce could be stained with mud. But a careful cleaning should solve the problem as it is only cosmetic”.
The Fondi area is apparently safe, while the Pontina area is the most affected: in this area, there are extensive crops (like cereals), but also lettuces – such as curly and escarole – and cabbages”.
Floods in Sabaudia
The expert highlighted, “The greenhouses close to canals or rivers are the most affected. Yet, to be fair, people set up crops and fields in those areas renowned to be prone to the natural water flooding. Therefore, the lack of canal maintenance is not the only thing to blame. We must rethink how to set up new settlements”.
In the meantime, people are looking at the temperature with concern, “I hope we will not reach the sub-zero temperatures while the fields are still filled with water. The protected crops should prevent this frost-related issues. However, it is clear that the recent climatic events have to make us aware that these tropicalization phenomena require new agricultural approaches in the urban areas”.