The Ministry of Rural Affairs had promised a method for evaluating if, where and from what source strawberry growers' yield loss has derived, by the end of July. However, this has not appeared, but the ministry promises to analyze the situation next week. The Horticultural Association (Aiandusliit) says that the loss, partly the result of the coronavirus pandemic and associated labor shortage, constitutes about 60-70 percent of the harvest.
Minister of Rural Affairs Arvo Aller (EKRE) says that first of all it is necessary to figure out whether the loss arose from restricting foreign labor, as borders closed March to May ahead of the approaching strawberry harvest season, or from the weather conditions at the time.
Chairman of the Board of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce (Eesti Põllumajandus-Kaubanduskoda), Roomet Sõrmus, said that strawberry growers have sent their data to the ministry and based on this, both parties could be said to be ready to discuss the situation and consider terms of mitigation.
There are around 100 strawberry producers in Estonia, and 16 larger companies submitted their data. An accurate sum of losses has not been calculated yet.
"We are not able to talk about sums yet. But since we have met with the ministry twice, including the last time, when a data request was brought up in which companies were asked for additional data, two weeks ago this was finally forwarded to the ministry," member of the horticultural association Raimond Strastin said.
"16 companies forwarded their data; most likely the companies that produce the bulk of the strawberry crop. And we are talking about the 60-70 percent of yield loss."
As of the end of July, the methodology approved by the ministry for assessing yield loss had not come to fruition. According to state agency Statistics Estonia, about 1,900 tonnes of strawberries were produced last year, and expectations for this year's harvest had been very good.
Now the ball is in the ministry's court. Arvo Aller said that developments are expected next week.
"We asked the strawberry growers for more details in the first half of September, and these reached us last week. Now analysis will be done based on that data. Inother words, this week we're going to have a deep dive into the data."
Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte