The warning of agriculture

One of the few positivenews that sometimesappear in Romania isthat the economy advanced byapproximately 3.5 pc in 2013.Apparently, we have the besteconomic growth of the EUwhich – as a whole – has notregained its ascending courseyet. The respective percentageof economic growth should giveRomania at least a positive stateof mind, but this is not thecase, because of the trivial reasonthat the living standard ofRomanians has not improved.The analysis of the contradiction‘per se’ outlines twoaspects: a positive and a negativeone. On the plus side: therespective economic growth of2013 was mainly driven byagriculture. We had a very goodagricultural year, the wheat outputwas superior to that of thelast 8 years and still has theprecedence in Romanianexports. Hence the conclusionthat the agricultural sector stillrepresent our foremost economicpotential.

Nevertheless, this potential is not used tothe best extent. And this brings us to theaforementioned negative issue, whichresults from the fact that our wheatexports are mostly conducted right afterharvesting, when prices are very small. Itwould be normal and useful if the excessagricultural output could be stored insilos until favourable prices appear on theinternational market. And the operationalexistence of such silos implies acentralised economic policy, favourable toechonomic imperatives of strategicimportance. Without such a nationalstrategy, the favourable natural conditionswhich the economic potential ofagriculture relies upon, are lost in minorand isolated actions.With this regard, Romania shows a negativepicture, mainly caused by politicaldecisions. At the end of year 1989 andearly in 1990, authorities passed thewrong decision of simply disbanding theformer collective farms, instead of transformingthem into modern units of agriculturalcooperation – as it would havebeen normal. The disaster did not startwhen the former communist collectivefarms were disbanded, but when theywere split into more than 3 million agriculturalplots with surfaces under 1hectare. “The European normality”invoked as target by Romanian rulingpoliticians, since December 1989, shouldhave dictated that the former collectivefarms are integrated into an agriculturalcooperation system similar to what wasgenerally used in Western Europe, USAand many other countries.The rejection of agricultural cooperationspelled the doom of the farming equipmentindustry, agricultural scientificresearch and other sectors of strategicimportance. The first to warn us aboutthis collapse were precisely our foreignguests. One of them, the great Americanfarmer David Garst, who paid a visit toRomania in the early ‘90s, held a pressconference – also attended by membersof the government – in which he praisedthe competence of Romanian agriculturalspecialists and the natural quality of ourarable land. Then he said: “But what youdid by dividing the land after 1989 is acrime. A crime resulting from savageness,not the principles of capitalism.Capitalism means an accumulation ofvalues, which means welfare. The errorsyou made by dispersing the agriculturedo not pertain to capitalism. Thedestruction of capital cannot mean capitalism,it is still communism. You wantedto eliminate communism and you instatedpoverty.”The conclusion of this statement is stilltrue in the years with a rich agriculturalcrop, such as 2013. When the small andmedium-sized farmer, which forms themajority in rural areas, was forced to sellhis crop right after harvesting it, at aderisory price. Because he does not havethe capacity to store it until a latermoment. Why? Because the numerousagricultural silos of old times were privatisedand charge inaccessible storage fees.The Romanian small and medium-sizedproducer, dominant in terms of frequencyin the rural zones, is thus pushed intopoverty. Forced to sell his wheat rightafter harvesting, at prices that drop vertiginously,influenced by local mobsterswho act together in their price-collapsingaction, because this is how they succeedin striking rich from the export of wheat.And the tragedy of the agricultural produceramplifies in the present conditions,when he lacks modern agricultural equipment,carefully selected and very productiveseeds, modern means of counteringpests and, above all, the system of irrigations.Like in the case of agriculturalsilos, the irrigation system that coveredapproximately 4 million hectares in the‘80s of last century was destroyed by thedissemination of agricultural plots. Andthe tragedy keeps getting worse. Now, therural producer is pressed to pay the taxon agricultural incomes, but agriculturalincomes not only are absent, but – evenworse – the Romanian state has not yetpaid the legally due compensations to thefarmers affected by draught in the previousyears.Under the pressure of this multiplepoverty, the small and medium-sizedfarmer is forced to sell his small agriculturalplot. If a hectare of farmland sellstoday in Western Europe at EUR 20,000,the same surface in Romania does notfetch a price above EUR 2,000. This isthe very explanation for the present invasionof various “strategic investors” fromabroad, who massively buy farmlandwhich they often are in no hurry to usefor agriculture. Instead, they keep theselands in order to resell them, at higherprices, to other so-called “investors.”About 2 million hectares thus remain fallowevery year, a phenomenon thatgained momentum after January 1, 2014,when foreigners were granted unlimited“rights” to buy land in Romania. Thus,the rulers of Hungary – a country whichdoes not accept selling its land to foreigners– currently purchase land inRomania, especially in the regions withpredominant ethnic Hungarian population.Why? Because, when the muchwantedfederalisation of Romania willoccur, the respective lands will be practicallyannexed to Hungary.The danger of Romania breaking-up,staunchly promoted by its enemies,begins precisely with ignoring the problemsencountered by Romanian farmerstoday. This kind of warnings launched byour agricultural sector requires the urgentintervention of ruling politicians, if theytruly are Romanians.

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