Moldovan Grain Harvest Hit by Global Food Blockade

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Queues of up to 7 days at the border with Romania worry farmers from the Republic of Moldova, an agrarian country that exports sunflower crops during this period. Ukrainian lorries fleeing the warpath and preferring overland routes, also travel along the same route. A report by Euronews says this has created one of the biggest blockages in the history of the Black Sea region. “Along Moldovan roads in late summer, fields of bright yellow sunflowers can be seen all over the country. It is not just a pretty sight, because sunflower seeds play a vital economic role in this agrarian country. Sunflowers account for 25 per cent of Moldova’s total cultivated area, but farmers find it increasingly difficult to export lucrative seeds because of blockades caused by additional pressure from Ukrainian truck drivers, who are also trying to export the country’s crops through neighboring Moldova to Romanian ports,” the report says. “We have been waiting here for four days already,” the Ukrainian lorry driver said. In that time, he has travelled only 600 meters with his car full of grain. Hundreds of other Moldovan and Ukrainian drivers were also blocked around him. This is now a daily reality on Moldova’s southern border, at the Giurgiulesti border point. Ukrainians wait in Moldova to cross into Romania. They can wait in the queue for an average of five to seven days. In Romania, grain is delivered to the port of Constanta and from there by cargo ships around the world. Romanian customs cannot cope with the task, so most of the waiting takes place in Moldova, an important transit point for Ukrainian agricultural products. This is an unprecedented case for the Giurgiulesti border crossing. In October alone, 1307 laden lorries crossed the Moldovan-Ukrainian border via Reni-Giurgiulesti. The average waiting time has almost doubled since September from 137 hours to 269. Until this summer, grain was mainly exported by cargo ships, but Russia stopped the Black Sea Grain Initiative and started attacking Ukrainian ships and ports. The sea suddenly became a danger zone. Despite the risks, a large amount of Ukrainian grain is waiting for export. This is a global problem. Ukraine supplies much of the developing world through the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Until this summer, Ukrainian ports were operating at full capacity, sending food to those in need. Since July, all goods must be transported overland, and Moldova offers one of the first safe ports for these drivers - Giurgiulesti. Moldovan exports blocked by long queues The crisis also affects Moldovan farmers, the backbone of the Moldovan economy. It has become more difficult for them to unload grain. Everyone wants to get their products out of the country by any means, so Moldovan exporters cannot compete with cheap Ukrainian grain. As of 2022, the number of grain exporting countries from Moldova has decreased from 25 to 14. As a result, the Moldovan market is overcrowded. Agriculture in Moldova is becoming increasingly difficult. Farmers predict that in the coming years many of them will find themselves in a situation of bankruptcy. In an attempt to solve the crisis, the Moldovan government is setting up an electronic queuing system linked to the Ukrainian and Romanian customs services.