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Agriculture: In 2018, Romania had record farm yields and very high imports

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2018 can be considered a year of paradoxes for agrculture and food industry: it was a year of record crops and of record food imports, a situation which should be considered and solved by authorities.

Good news: Romania ranks 3rd in Europe for cereal yields with 31.890 million tons, 4th for wheat yields, with 10.247 million tons. For corn, with yields of 18.9 million tons, and sunflower with 3.3 million tons, Romania is first in Europe. For corn we surpassed France, which obtained 12.5 million tons and for sunflower our production is almost double that of Bulgaria, with 1.8 million tons.

Not so good news: In the first semester of 2018, Romania’s imports totalled 40.2 billion euro, of which 8.1% were food imports of 3.3 billion euro. This value has not been mentioned since 1989 and is double the one of 2008. Food exports in the first half of 2018 were of 2.2 billion euro, with a trade deficit of 1,08 billion euro, another historic record.

Patrons in agriculture say that storage infrastructure with controlled atmosphere for foodstuff can preserve 40% of national production, while the rest that cannot be stored on a long term is sold after harvesting or delivered for export. That is why Romania massively imports food every year in winter and spring months, the export/import balance being balanced in summer and autumn months.

According to BNR, the main imbalances have in view four categories of products: vegetables and fruit, coffee and cocoa, milk and dairy products, meet and meet products. “Although there are cases when contributions to the trade deficit can be seen as having a natural character, explicable by climate conditions, in most cases deficits hide problems of structural competitiveness, which affect the production chain.

In the case of fruit and vegetables (which explain a third of the commercial deficit generated by foodstuff) the dominant contribution of products with local tradition - apples, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes - is surprising. Making abstraction of the influence of the seasonable factor, production of all these cultures in the last 10-20 years stagnated or even dropped, a phenomenon associated to the absence of profit, to which is added the restriction of grown areas,” the BNR document shows.

As for food of animal origin, in the “meat and meat products”and “milk and dairy products”(with deficit contributions of 13% and 11%) we see besides the continuous drop in animal numbers, the excessive fragmentation of animal farms. The situation influences the farmers’ investment capacities, sector production being also affected by insufficient collecting, storage areas and transport. The incapacity to deliver goods according to quantity and quality demands to higher levels of the production chain, characterize both the vegetal and animal segments.

Another major event in agriculture was the concession of Great Braila Isle and the purchase of Agricost by Al Dahra from the United Arab Emirates. The Arab company announced its intention to invest another 500 million dollars in Romania, in the next 5 years in various sectors.

The taking over of Agricost was estimated at 200 million euros and was signed in March.

Al Dahra’s purpose is to reach an annual production of a million ton of cereals and combined fodder by 2022. At the same time, the expansion plans of the UAE company tend to develop a cereal collection point with silos with capacities of 2 million tons of cereals of various types, the implementation of five dehydration installations and the purchase of an operation point in Constanta port to facilitate cereal exports and fertilizer imports.

In agriculture there are now over 12,700 companies specialised in plant growing, 3,200 companies handle animal husbandry while 1,272 companies activate in the sector of mixed farm activities.

The biggest business in agriculture can be found in Timis county (2.85 billion lei), Calarasi (2.54 billion lei), Constanta (1.93 billion lei), Buzau and Satu Mare with 1.6 billion lei each.

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