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Spanish growers take stock of DANA damage

Spanish organizations have upped their estimates of damaged greenhouse acreage due to the extreme weather in Spain. They now speak of 1,000 hectares of greenhouse acreage having been damaged or destroyed, most of it in the Nijar area. 

According to Carmen Crespo, minister of agriculture of Andalusia, it is 300 hectares in Nijar that has been damaged, of which 50 hectares catastrophically. In Almeria the total damage is up to a 1000 hectares." 

In the Njiar area the season has just begun, and additional damage can occur due to young plants not surviving the cold water. 

Andrés Góngora, spokesman for growers' organization COAG Almería gave an early estimate of the damage, totaling over 20 million euros. They're asking for government support and visited the area with politicians to show them the impact of the storm. 



Along with Carmen Crespo, mayor Esperanza Pérez also visited the growers to share her sympathy. They say mainly growers were affected in the region and are pointing out that administrations will work together to support the growers. This morning more politicians appeared: Juan Morena of the People's Party is president of the regional government of Andalusia and visited the farms. 

Tomorrow the government will launch a support fund for the region, which is expected to contain at least 10 million euros for growers. 

In addition they also stressed that people should pay attention to their insurances. "This year we have put one million euros more in the budget of the Board for these insurances, said Crespo, who has argued that irrigators and agricultural organizations demand "this need." Also the importance of the water network is emphasized. "But no matter how much you clean, there's hardly any way you can stand 96 liters per square meter coming down." 

Nowadays most activities go to cleaning out the area, taking stock of the damage on the industry and the infrastructure and making sure growers can visit their greenhouses again. 

In this video with ABC, Spanish grower Juan shows what's left of his enterprise after storm DANA.

Personal stories
Mariska de Zoete works in Fruca's Commercial Division in Murcia. She also had to evacuate the area due to the severe weather. "We are staying with acquaintances. Our two houses, where my parents and I live, are completely flooded. As are our cars. We are going to clear the rubble now. But I do not know where to start. It is really awful!"

"On Friday afternoon, it seemed the rain was over. But, on Saturday morning at about 05:00, there was a huge thunderstorm. There were hailstones the size of golfballs and bigger," says Thomasol's Thomas Bos. This storm caused significant damage in Puerto Lumbreras, in Murcia, and Pulpí. "A lot of the first crops of broccoli, iceberg lettuce, and other lettuce varieties have been lost."

Rien Paans of Verfru Europe finds himself in Tarragona. He says there were no problems in the Delta Ebro/Tarragona region. "I was in Murcia with my son, Arthur. We were to have returned to Tarragona on Thursday afternoon. It soon became clear that this would be impossible. A lot of the roads were flooded. We, therefore, stayed in Murcia a day longer. This extra time afforded us the chance to get a proper picture of the immense damage. A lot of roads, houses, and car have been damaged. Fields were also completely flooded."

"I recently contacted various growers and cooperatives. They are not yet able to estimate the damage as a whole, but it will be unbelievably large," continues Rien. "One grower says 90%, if not 100%, of his crops for the December harvest are lost. They are expecting major losses in endive, spinach, and iceberg lettuce crops. It is very difficult to plant anew. It will also be a while before the fields can be worked again. The plants will have to be germinated again too. There will certainly be shortages in December."

In total 300,000 hectares damaged
The Segura river is still overflowing in places. Thousands of nearby residents are still being evacuated from their homes. There is no more water, and in some cases, no electricity available. Two growers associations' initial damage estimates have come in already. They estimate there is damage to more than 300,000 hectares. The Aaja Alicante Growers Organization estimates the storm has struck about 150,000 hectares of citrus, vegetables, and grapes. The affected area lies between Elche and Pilar de la Horadada. It is also feared that some 150,000 hectares have been lost to storm damage in Murcia.

The rains prevented grapes being harvested in Murcia last week. This means exporters could not send their products to the rest of Europe. A few exporters predicted the floods. They harvested more grapes in the preceding week. This was done to supplement their cold storage stocks. These exporters were able to continue sending their goods to market. This was possible thanks to Murcia's good infrastructure.

In this region, 90% of the grape acreage is under plastic houses. This meant the fruit was able to withstand the heavy rainfall. Growers are, however, expecting issues with humidity in the coming days. The exporters wanted to ship the first grapes to China last week. Now, they will have to wait eight days and then check the grapes' quality. This quality check is very necessary. The fruit is in transit for a long time before it reaches China.