- News and Current Affairs
- Features and Reports
- Useful information
- Our Shows
- ON DEMAND
Although 2016 was one of Romania’s most productive years in terms of farming, the country had record imports of farm and food produce.
In spite of the fact that 2016 was one of Romania's most productive years in terms of farming, the country reported record imports of farm and food produce. The imports accounted for 6 billion euros while the trade deficit exceeded half a billion euros, that is six times more than in 2015, when it stood at 89 million euros, according to the National Statistics Institute. The exports of farm and food produce accounted for 5.95 billion euros, up by 3.8% as compared with 2015.
The European Union was Romania's main trading partner last year, with imports covering 83.4% of the total imports of farm and food produce. As many as 7 million tonnes of wheat were exported in 2016, twice as much as in 2015, accounting for 1.14 billion euros. Most of the wheat was in fact imported from Hungary and Bulgaria and then re-exported via the Constanta Port. Also last year, 63,500 tonnes of cheeses and 190,700 tonnes of milk and cream were imported, by 26% more than in 2015.
Stefan Padure, head of the Association for the Promotion of Romanian Food, tells us why the imports of food have increased:
"At the same time with the decrease in the VAT on food produce, this tax applied to the final consumer in the context in which Romania does not produce very much with an added value and does not focus on the export of value added products. So the consumer had the chance to choose and witnessed a drop in the price of all these categories of products, whether they came from the EU or from third countries. In practice, the one that displayed the product at the shelf also set a consumption pattern and if the supermarket chains brought products from the EU these products got promoted and the consumer did not get too many chances to choose a Romanian product from the shelf. So, consumption increased automatically given the diversified offer. Most of the processed foods are imported. Romania has exported mostly wheat and corn, and very few processed foods. Animal breeding for instance is the first stage in agriculture. Then comes meat processing and meat products and next in line is the certification scheme. Unfortunately, not even the first stage of animal breeding has been properly carried out, so we have to import even small pigs because we haven't had a good strategy and objectives. The lack of clear objectives and strategies has prevented us from focusing on certain segments through financial instruments, structural or cohesion funds. Absorption has been our main objective while others have been overlooked."
Pork is topping the list of Romania's farm products imports. Last year alone the consumption of imported pork stood at 200 thousand tonnes, which accounts for 350 million euros. In recent years the country's pig-breeding sector has been facing a series of serious issues, under-financing being one of them. Many breeders have shifted towards growing farms lately, as they are cheaper than the reproduction ones, which are currently very few in Romania. The country's annual production of pigs stands at around 4.2 million. From this point of view, Romania comes 9th in EU after Germany, Spain, France, Denmark, Holland, Poland, Italy and Belgium.
Here is more on the situation in this sector from Ioan Ladosi, chairman of the Association of Pork Producers in Romania:
"The pork producing sector has been going through a difficult period in terms of export. Romania has been unable to export pork for ten years now because of the swine fever. During this long period we lost most of the markets and connections and it's very difficult to make a comeback to an increasingly competitive, globalised market. The market has changed all these years and there are different players and buyers. We've made a poor start but we need serious economic power to make a difference on this market. We have been lobbying the authorities for the past 8 years now, telling them that we need a larger number of sows than what we have now. We need that in order to cover swine production...It's not easy to run a reproduction farmhouses, costs are 10 times higher overall. We get reports of small farms disappearing all over Europe. This is a far-reaching consolidation process at European level. No wonder Spain is now one of the main engines for pork production in Romania, because they came up with a strategy whereby they didn't subsidise farms with a number of pig heads lower than 2,500. The lower you get below this threshold, the more difficult the sales and the larger the costs."
Romanian authorities have recently launched a programme called "Pork produced in Romanian farms", in order to overcome difficulties in this sector. The programme will be implemented over the 2017-2020 period, and the total amount of subsidies allotted to this programme this year stands at 86 million euros. Last week Romania was added to the list of states free of swine flu, while countries such as Japan, the United States, Canada and Mexico have already expressed their intention to start negotiations with Romania for importing pork.
Sheep breeders in Romania are also having trouble selling animals to Arab countries due to the high number of third parties. Up to three companies may sometimes act as middleman between Romanian farmers and the customers. In this case, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has promised to take steps so as to eliminate third parties from sheep trading with states in the Persian Gulf, and convince importers to trade directly from Romanian farms, by either investing in stock farms and slaughterhouses at local level, or in sheep farms in Romania.
The authorities have also promised to financially support farmers for trading wool. With the market disappearance of wool-manufacturing factories or wool carpet factories, there is virtually no demand for wool on the Romanian market. Sheep and goat breeders have repeatedly complained about having to burn or burry processed wool for lack of buyers. The Ministry of Agriculture has promised to give sheep breeders 1 leu for every kilo of wool they sell, up to a maximum of 15,000 euros over 3 years.
Copyright © . All rights reserved