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Agriculture: Reuters: Drought-hit Romanian wheat crop should still meet Egypt tenders

Romania, the second largest grain seller among European Union states, is along with France and Russia a major exporter of cereals to the Middle East, with Egypt the main buyer.

“It’s a double hit. We witness a very bad year for wheat, situation resembles 2002 when plants froze in the winter in the absence of snow cover and then in the spring no rains occurred at all,” Romania’s former agriculture minister Petre Daea said, quoted by Reuters correspondent.

Daea told Reuters that field data showed that crops from 10 out of 41 administrative counties were damaged “up to 100%.”

Romania harvested a record wheat crop of about 10 million tonnes last year from 2.1 million hectares, and farmers and traders now expect it to reap about 5 to 7.4 million tonnes.

A smaller crop, against the background of excessive dryness, however, would have a beneficial impact, by preventing the occurrence of the ergot disease in grain - a key requirement in Egypt tenders - experts say.

“Romania is facing a rather severe pedological drought,” Sebastien Devos of the Koepta brokerage in Romania said.

“Romania will remain a wheat exporter, probably with around 3.5 million tonnes, and therefore will be able to participate to international tenders like the Egyptian ones (GASC) depending on the international prices/market and level/demand,” Devos added.

Devos said the south and west are looking good to very good, so it was not so easy to compute an average yield, adding that he expects the 2020 Romanian wheat crop “to be at around 7.3-7.4 million tonnes, maybe even lower”.

Romania’s domestic consumption ranges from 2.5 to 3 million tonnes, leaving an export surplus of 2 to 4.9 million tonnes.