Moldovan Farmers Are on the Verge of Bankruptcy: Big Batch of Products Imported from Ukraine

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As a result, the price of wheat, for instance, has almost halved, and it is simply unprofitable for local farmers to sell it. Two thousand tons of grain – wheat, rape, sunflower – are stale in Nicolae Sprincean’s warehouses. Last year’s harvest was added by a new one. This season, Moldovan farmers have harvested twice as much wheat as last season, but they cannot sell the grain profitably. “A lot of products have been imported from Ukraine at a lower price compared to ours. Warehouses are full all over Moldova. Large holdings take it where it is cheaper. As a result, we are left with tons of grain,” says agricultural producer Nicolae Sprincean. Last year, Moldova imported record volumes of Ukrainian grain and oilseeds. According to the Farmers’ Association, wheat imports increased 74 times, sunflower - 60 times, corn - 43 times. “All this was imported by factories, distilleries and other enterprises. They have an abundance of these products - corn, wheat, and sunflowers. They do not need it now. The authorities missed the main part of imports in 2022,” says Alexandru Slusari, executive director of the Power of Farmers Association. Mass imports have led to a collapse of prices on the Moldovan market. Now a ton of wheat is almost half the cost of production. “It is the price level that supports efficient agriculture in Ukraine. Our agriculture, at these prices, on the contrary, is inefficient. This impact is devastating, it kills the agricultural industry,” says economic expert Mikhail Poisik. Moldova cannot compete with its big neighbor, Ukraine. The cost of cultivating fields in the republic is many times higher. Last year, fuel and fertilizers became more expensive. The shortage of workers complicates the situation. “To harvest this crop, we invested as much as possible at the end of last year. Everything has tripled in price - fertilizers, spare parts, fuel, labor. At the same time, the prices of our products have fallen. How should we survive?” says agricultural producer Petru Rachila. More than 500 small and medium-sized farms are on the verge of bankruptcy. Back in spring, farmers demanded that the government impose a temporary ban on grain imports from Ukraine, as 5 Eastern European countries - Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia - have done. But the Moldovan authorities refused the agrarians. “The Ukrainians would have imposed a ban on fruit and vegetable exports on us in return, and we would have lost more. The profit would have been negligible and the loss guaranteed,” says Moldovan Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Vladimir Bolea. The government promised to control the volume of grain supplies from Ukraine and to provide financial assistance to farmers. Time passed, but there was no response. In the midst of summer, outraged farmers took their machinery from the fields to the national highways, and then they marched to the capital. 200 tractors stood in front of the government for almost a week. The agrarians demanded a state of emergency for agriculture. “What problems do we have? Product prices are low, there is not enough labor, there is no one to sell the goods,” said Gheorghe Ciobanu, a farmer from Leova district. A thorny path How Moldova went to the 30th anniversary of independence “You think we have nothing to do? We abandoned our fields and came from the districts on tractors from a good life?” said Gheorghe Jurcanu, a farmer from Cahul district. The protests were stopped only during the harvesting season. The farmers planned to use it to pay off their debts, which had accumulated a lot. “The creditors’ pressure is terrible. If you don’t pay, they immediately file a court application and try to bankrupt you. Then a bailiff comes and blocks your accounts,” says Alexandru Slusari, executive director of the Power of Farmers Association. Farmers demand a temporary moratorium on loan repayments. The authorities do not dare to take this step. Farms continue to accumulate debts. They had to borrow money even for harvesting. There was not enough money for fuel and machinery. “If before a liter of fuel cost me 4 kg of barley to buy, now it’s 10 kg. There was no money, so I had to borrow fuel,” said Stefan Vlas, chairman of the agricultural co-operative society. Farmers are waiting for better times and prices. That’s why they continue to send the harvest to the warehouses. To prevent the grain from getting damp, it is regularly sifted, which is an additional cost. At the end of summer, the Moldovan government allocated 200 million lei (more than a billion rubles) from the state reserve to compensate farmers. The amount is three times less than what the producers demanded. The farmers will not receive the money until October.