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Agriculture, a sector that contributes each year some 6-7 pc of the GDP, brought EUR 15 bln to the economy last year, down 16 pc from the peak of 2011, according to preliminary Eurostat estimations made public at the beginning of this year, zf.ro reports. The reduction of the agricultural output was caused by draught and weak crops of cereals and oil plants (sunflower and rape). However, the decline was kept under control by the rapid increase of prices for the main agricultural raw materials. Moreover, the agricultural output of 2012 is in line with the average figure for the last six years, so the decrease by EUR 3 bln was unable to significantly change the figures pertaining to economic growth. “2012 was not a bad year for agriculture, as it seemed initially, but the draught that hit last autumn will have consequences this year, because it delayed agricultural works and the rape grew too fast these last months, so farmers had to take measures in order to slow its growth. Agriculture will continue to be the growth driver of economy,” explains Gabriel Popescu, Professor with the Faculty of Agrifood and Environment Economy of ASE Bucharest. The decrease registered last year in agriculture came against the background of the draught, which severely hit the crops of the farmers that planted wheat, corn, sunflower or rape. Eurostat figures however demonstrate that the value of the agricultural output achieved last year is in line with the average of the last six years, while the decline registered against the previous year is the result of a high base effect.Gabriel Popescu added that agricultural production will bring EUR 18-19 bln each year, like in 2011, only when farmers will invest substantial funds in modern irrigation systems. In his turn, Dumitru Miron, the dean of the Faculty of International Economic Relations of ASE Bucharest, says that the disappearance of EUR 3 bln in agriculture last year cannot change the calculations related to economic growth.