22.9 C
Bucharest
June 30, 2022
EDITORIAL

Mobsters steal the wheat

The contradictions that are eating away at Romania are turning the ever fewer favourable agricultural climatic conditions on their head. For instance, we never experienced the severe draught forecasted for the summer of 2013; the climate was actually favourable. Consequently, the wheat harvest is 30 percent bigger than last year. From a quantitative perspective, it is the second largest harvest in the last 41 years and the largest in the last 8 years. The wheat production for 2013 is 7 million tons and the rapeseed and rye production have likewise increased. Is 2013 a profitable year for small Romanian agricultural producers?
By no means. Firstly, let us consider the fact that the actual number of these small agricultural producers is not clear. Two decades ago, there were 9 million small producers, but many of them are now deceased and their children are refusing to claim the estates belonging to the deceased. Why? Because the taxes for those estates would be very high, in many cases higher than the selling price. This would, in turn, prevent the Romanian state from receiving taxes for the respective estates, as approximately 80 percent of the official owners are deceased. It is impossible for the state to rate all the agricultural estates. The fault, however, is not the small producers’, but the state’s because for over two decades it has been a passive witness to small producers becoming poorer and poorer.
A conclusive example in this respect is the good wheat harvest of this year, which is being sold for a very small price. Small agricultural producers pay at least RON 2.000 to cultivate a hectare of wheat, but they are selling that same hectare of wheat for RON 1.600 – RON 1.700. Why is that? Well, because a criminal network of buyers has decided that this year’s selling price for wheat should not exceed RON 0.60 per kilogram. The Council of Competition has been made aware of the actions of this “wheat buyers’ cartel” and are currently conducting an investigation on the matter, the results of which remain to be seen.
Until then, let us keep in mind that small Romanian agricultural producers are not even provided with the basic means (already existing in other countries) to preserve their production,: the possibility of storing their wheat, allowing them to subsequently sell it for a convenient price. The indifference of our former and current rulers is still the cause for this shortcoming. They are systematically ignoring the fact that Romania, just as any modern state, needs a strategic wheat reserve. Many enormous underground and above-ground warehouses have been built with great financial pains in Romania over many decades in order to store strategic wheat reserves designed either in view of a prolonged draught or unfavourable economic circumstances, as the case is today. At the moment, the so-called “strategic European investors” are exporting poverty for small producers rather than useful investments. It is a well-known fact that when a state is incapable of ensuring its own security, it is in danger of becoming a colony. Actual security can be ensured by the ability to protect itself both from a military and economic standpoint, the latter especially through the food sector because if agriculture producers are on the brink of poverty, military power could well collapse.
Such strategic wheat reserves are no longer possible in Romania. Why? Because most silos have been privatised, meaning they were sold for very small prices by power-thirsty factors and oftentimes destroyed in an attempt to recover those estates. Even in cases where warehouses do exist, small producers are not granted storing certificates. Their only “salvation” is to sell their wheat cheap. No one has taken responsibility for these thefts and discriminations. A potential way of defence would be to build new grain warehouses, but privately this time. For this to be accomplished, the small producers must work together.
This is precisely what they are not doing, again because of Romanian politicians who, in the 1990s, started abolishing all Communist agricultural “collectives” while failing to handle the very institution for agricultural cooperation playing a key part in the whole of Europe. Therefore, solidarity between Romanian small producers remains a viable goal. Until it is achieved, producers’ poverty will continue to increase. However, this lack of cohesiveness has other consequences as well, such as the emergence of intermediaries between producers and consumers. Through corruption, they have managed to take over agricultural markets and impose prices that serve their own purposes. Why does the judicial system, in its entirety, does not fight all these cases of corruption?
Apart from a completely justified explanation – that the justice system is overloaded – an incriminating factor sometimes comes into play: the corruption of judges that takes so many and just as justified forms. Here is a case otherwise inconceivable in an EU Member State. An entire village in Transylvania is in danger of becoming property of the successors of a Hungarian count, who are falsely claiming ownership of the respective area based on a corrupt Romanian justice system and are intending to destroy the village, graveyard included. Such actions for the recovery of possession over properties belonging to former Hungarian landowners are becoming increasingly frequent. Despite the fact that Transylvania was reunited with its motherland immediately after 1918 and all the Romanian villagers were given agricultural lands, the Romanian state paid these Hungarian landowners tens of tons of gold in exchange for properties confiscated for giving all peasants land, including the Hungarian peasants.
The indifference and irresponsibility of Romanian politicians, regardless to which doctrine they supposedly subscribe to, are becoming ever more visible. Why? Because while they boast about Romanian agriculture’s potential to feed over 40 million people during their political campaigns, at the same time they are promoting a regionalisation that is anti-national precisely because of its feudal nature. In the name of this regionalisation, even agricultural research units are being included under local heritage and, thus, destroyed by means of fraudulent privatisations.
The common Romanian’s remaining salvation is his “self-deprecating humour”, a proof of which is the currently fashionable folk motto of rapacious moguls: “I-auzi braul, braul, braul. /Mafiotii fura graul / Iara grofii, pe morminte / Cand le calca-ncep sa cante!” (in translation: Hear the girdle, girdle, girdle. / Mobsters steal the wheat / While the counts stand on graves / And sing, sing, sing!)

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