ATHENS – Excess peaches stuck in Greece because of a Russian embargo on western nations will be given to churches and charity groups instead of being allowed to rot, farmers said.
Scores of tons of peaches are sitting in refrigerators after Russian importers were forced by their government to cancel orders of a prized fruit. Russia makes up half the export market for Greek peaches. Moscow imposed the embargo in retaliation for sanctions over its involvement in Ukraine.
The surplus fruit will be sent to charities, churches and other organizations dealing with the welfare of vulnerable social groups, the Agricultural Development Ministry announced.
Farmers would also benefit as giving away the produce is designed to prevent a glut on the market which could further drive down the prices they are paid, with some complaining that buyers are already making only slim offers for the goods.
The producers have proposed that some of the peaches be reduced to pulp to make fruit juice for schools. They are hopeful that the European Commission on April 22 will include peaches, as well as nectarines, on the list of products for which they would be compensated.
Greece promised the farmers they would would be held harmless but has done nothing about it. Some 30 to 35 million euros in EU aid is expected, far less than the losses the farmers would take.
Potential alternative export markets for Greece were discussed at a separate meeting chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas, with farmers and representatives of the road haulage sector.