Opinion: “Moldovan Farmers Are Sacrificed”

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The Moldovan government zealously serves the interests of Ukrainian grain exports, and with equal indifference it treats the problems of local agrarians
Semen ALBU, RTA: The Independence Day, as expected, was the most important event for our authorities. I am speaking, of course, not about our Moldovan Independence Day, where Maia Sandu made one of the most colorless speeches, but about the Ukrainian one. On the occasion of such a holiday, our elites showered the neighboring country with compliments, and Maia Sandu even recorded a video congratulation in the company of children’s choir singing “Chervona Kalyna”. Of course, it was full of absurdity (you know how “professional” the “yellows” are) – for some reason the children were holding Ukrainian flags with colors upside down, for which our president was widely mocked, even in the Ukrainian media. However, it is not quite fair for our neighbors to mock the Moldovan government, because all it does is serving the interests of Ukraine, even to the detriment of Moldovan concerns. If we remember that prank with Sandu, when she was ready to give the Giurgiulesti port for use – what, by the way, actually happened – we can understand that authorities are ready to fulfil any Ukrainian request with the utmost diligence. It is clear that right now, apart from military actions, our neighbors are most concerned about exporting their agricultural products - one of their few sources of income. The termination of the grain deal has become a major problem for Kyiv, which now has to quickly decide how to deliver huge volumes of Ukrainian grain, sunflower and other crops to customers. Even a brief glance at the regional map is enough to realize an obvious fact – with the closure of Black Sea ports, Moldova’s logistic importance in transporting Ukrainian grain has increased manifold. Now we and Romania have almost the key role in transporting it through the Danube routes. Of course, our authorities have warmly responded to the aspirations of our neighbor. Work has begun, for instance, to simplify the transit of goods trains to and from Ukraine and to reduce its cost. It is a pity that when it comes to Moldovan issues, there is no such zeal... Last week, Dorin Recean, being in Kyiv, confirmed that Chisinau will continue to remove administrative barriers, contribute in every possible way to the work of the so-called “solidarity corridors” and improve transport, road and railway infrastructure for the benefit of exporting Ukrainian agricultural products. It’s all great, but hardly for Moldovan farmers, to whom the government pays much less attention. Perhaps, among other things, because over the past months our authorities have well realized the innocuous nature of farmer protests, which under the current regime are quite cautious and accurate. Therefore, the authorities are blatantly ignoring the interests of the agrarians, giving them symbolic handouts with such hubris that the farmers should almost be ashamed in front of the people for this help. However, judging by the reports from the Farmers’ Power association, even these 200 million lei – which is only twice as much as the recent increments to the ministers’ salaries – is given late and not to everyone. Meanwhile, our farmers have a lot of problems. The main one is the low price for grain due to large volumes of Ukrainian products travelling and partially settling in Moldova. It is a disaster not only for us, but also for other countries involved in Ukrainian exports. However, unlike Moldova, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania try to protect their producers as much as they can. And they are not even afraid of confrontation with European officials. Earlier they have already introduced their own ban on imports of Ukrainian crops, which later had to be “legalized” by the EU. The term of this ban end’s on 15 September, but it is going to be extended, even expanding the list of “banned goods”, and again in an independent mode, if it is suddenly not approved in the community. Brussels and Kyiv are dissatisfied, but these countries do not intend to give up. Moreover, they insistently demand from the EU budgetary relief and financial support for their farmers. Previously, the EC has already allocated hundreds of millions in aid to those producers who have suffered from the influx of Ukrainian grain, and it is likely that they will have to shell out more. And what about Moldova? If you remember, we also once planned to introduce an import ban, but after Kyiv’s reaction, we instantly abandoned this idea under unconvincing pretexts like “it won’t do any good anyway”. For now, the topic has been hushed up so much that no one even remembers it. How can we talk about a ban when long-term infrastructure plans are being made to export grain from Ukraine? It is obvious that they concern not only this year, but also at least the next one, because there is no end in sight to this bloody war. Well, maybe at least they should ask for European assistance? Judging by the statements of responsible officials, they went to Brussels with such requests, but, as we can see, in vain. We wanted to get a little over a billion lei from our partners, but they are ready to give us such money only for defense or to increase the assets of the Western-controlled National Bank, but not for farmers, whose products are not needed in the EU. In addition to the low price, the problem is that we have lost most of our traditional markets due to Ukrainian dumping. Even PAS Minister of Agriculture, Vladimir Bolea, has to admit this. Moreover, our export is sold at low prices, which is disastrous for our farmers. As a result, we have to hold on to the goods while waiting for the right market conditions, but it is not clear when they will come. Thus, many people have already gone bankrupt, unable to cope with their credit obligations. This year our agrarians have had a very good grain harvest. More than 800,000 tons should be exported. But prices are low, markets are lost, and transport corridors are full with Ukrainian products. Don’t you think, disrespected government, that we should at least for a second distract ourselves from satisfying Kyiv and do something about it? Or will you keep on making a sacrifice of Moldovan farmers?