How Moldova’s Agriculture Sector Can Export to The EU

coperta deschidere ok flatternThe Republic of Moldova branch of the Romanian Center for European Policies (CRPE-Moldova) has published the report “The Export of Moldovan Agricultural Products into the EU. Proposals for rural development policies” on Thursday, the 16th of October. This report is the result of research undertaken by the CRPE team in three key sectors of agriculture in Moldova: fruit, wine, and meat. The research team interviewed producers and performed a series of case studies in order to represent the agricultural sector from the perspective of those working in the field.

The report concludes that despite the fact that the EU is the destination for the majority of exports from Moldova, when it comes to solely agricultural exports, the situation is quite different. The access of agricultural products to the EU market is still limited and the export of these products remains dependent on the CIS market. The delay of reorientation of the agricultural exports represents a major vulnerability for Moldova.

The CRPE team has identified the most important issue that limits the possibility of exports into the EU for each sector and recommends focusing government’s and producers’ funds and efforts on the respective issue.

Hence, the organization of producers and the post-harvest collection infrastructure are important for the fruit sector. This will allow doing the selection, packaging, and contracting according to European practices. The main challenge for the wine sector is the rejuvenation of the vine and the marketing for a demanding market such as the European one. The main problem in the meat sector is the certification and adoption of the European standards, a process that experiences a considerable delay.

In the context of the launch of the National Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Development in the R. of Moldova, CRPE recommends to focus the resources (including the ENPARD resources received from the EU) in order to solve these problems as a matter of priority.

The report has been launched and debated by the authors during a public event with the participation of the representatives of the concerned institutions and ministries of the Republic of Moldova and Romania, diplomats from the EU Delegation in Chisinau and from the Embassy of the Netherlands, as well as representatives of associations of producers, business, and the banking sector of the R. of Moldova.

The former Secretary of State and head of the Authority for the Management of Rural Development in Romania, Cornelia Mihai, made recommendations to her colleagues from the Republic of Moldova which are at the beginning of the road when it comes to the sketching of policies in the field of rural development. The expert from Romania indicated where Romania has succeeded in the field (e.g.: rejuvenation of the vine) and where it has not (e.g.: prioritization of rural development funds received from the EU).

Moreover, she specified that “the system of testing in field of food safety is an urgency for the Moldovan authorities, even more so since the implementation of the legislative and control framework in the sanitary-veterinary, phytosanitary and the safety of food products sectors is a precondition for gaining access to the ENPARD funds, the EU’s assistance program in the agriculture sector. ENPARD can provide funds for the adoption of EU standards which are necessary for private economic agents which operate in the agri-food sector.”

The debate focused on the good practices which can increase the added-value of Moldovan products so that they can be successfully exported to the European market. The authors of the report voiced in the presence of authorities the discontent of the Moldovan producers who are currently receiving subsidies in an unpredictable manner. The main conclusion is that the ENPARD has to renounce the practice of disbursing funds without prioritization, according to the principle give-everyone-a-little but rather focus the funds so as to facilitate the export of the Moldovan agricultural products on the European market.

“The Association of producers in order to package, sell, and contract in common is the key. For scattered agriculture such as ours, in Romania and in the Republic of Moldova, there is no other way to stand up to the European market” concluded Alexandra Toderiță, CRPE expert on agricultural policies.

 “The Republic of Moldova must not repeat the mistake made by Romania concerning the European funds for agriculture and rural development. There is a need to prioritize these funds, to set fewer goals but with more visible results. Therefore, if one needs to decide how to prioritize this money, we propose a simple criterion: to choose the measures that will facilitate the export of the Moldovan agricultural products onto the European market. This way a major political objective will be achieved: the access of Moldovan agriculturists to a stable market without caprices such as the embargoes imposed by the Russian Federation” said Cristian Ghinea, the head of the Romanian Center for European Policies.

The participants of the debate concluded that there is a need for more similar initiatives to forge a nation-wide consensus on agricultural policies, so that officials, experts, and representatives of the producers could all propose solutions for public policy issues.

The research was supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in the framework of the “Rule of Law and Good Governance” program, whereas the opening event and the public debate were co-funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands and from the Romania’s development assistance funds (in cooperation with the United Nations Program for Development).

The full version of the report in the Romanian language is available here.