March 4. 2024. 11:12

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Romanian agriculture faces collapse amid mass Ukrainian grain imports

Farmers in countries neighbouring Ukraine, including grain-producing Romania, need help to compete with the proliferation of cheap grain from the war-torn state.

Ukraine, a major global grain producer and exporter, received EU aid after the outbreak of Russia’s war and created solidarity corridors so the country could continue its grain exports.

Besides the solidarity corridors, the suspension of customs duties and dropping the requirement of sanitary and veterinary certificates have made it easier for the product to penetrate the markets of its neighbouring countries at low prices.

As a result, Romania imported an unprecedented 13.9% of $1.24 billion worth of Ukrainian grain, way ahead of any other country globally. But for the country’s grain farmers, this creates a troubling situation.

Many Romanian farmers have seen their products languishing in warehouses for over a year as they cannot compete with the low prices of Ukrainian grain.

In addition, transporting grain for the external market is also almost impossible because all the logistical capacity is concentrated on Ukrainian cargo, including at the Port of Constanta, which is blocked by Ukrainian ships.

Others have criticised the quality of Ukrainian grain as it remains exempt from quality control and EU standards.

“At this rate, Romanian agribusiness will go bankrupt. It’s already very difficult for many, they have accumulated huge debts. If the agreement on the export of grain through the Black Sea is not extended, it will be even more difficult, because all the burden will be shifted to Romania, by rail or land,” said Cezar Gheorghe, a grain market expert and advisor to Agriculture Minister Petr Daea.

According to Gheorghe, the government must think about constructing a private Romanian terminal at the Port of Constanta where national producers can sell on the domestic market and the surplus can be sent to the foreign market.

“Unless solutions are found, Romania will become a mere transit country and a market for Ukrainian grain,” Gheorghe told EURACTIV.

In Poland, farmers blocked the movement of trucks at several border crossings with Ukraine in early February.

All eyes are now on the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels that is set to be held on 20-21 March.

Earlier in February, Romania and five other countries in the region called on the EU to take measures to reduce the problems caused by increased Ukrainian grain imports. A response is expected at AGRIFISH next week.