Lower prices outside lead to large imports of fruit and vegetables

The Republic of Moldova over the last three years imported about 3,000 tonnes of apples a year, while the local fruit growers have their cold storage facilities full, also due to the bans imposed by Russia as this is a market to which they are yet powerfully connected. Also, large quantities of other types of fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products are also imported into the country. Experts explain that such a situation is due to the lower prices of some of the imported produces and to the deplorable state reached by the national animal breeding sector, IPN reports, with reference to RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service.

Vyacheslav Grigorița, head of the Vegetal Policies Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, stated for the Service that apple imports should not be large given that local production covers internal consumption. Even if it is paradoxical, this phenomenon has an explanation. Poland, which is the most important player on the European market, produces large quantities of apples and exports them at small prices. This way, the national apples of a lower quality are sold to processing plants for 1.2-1.4 lei per kg, while those for consumption that are brought from Poland and cost as much are preferred by business entities. Apples are also imported from Italy and Ukraine.

Moldova also imports large quantities of watermelons, primarily from Ukraine, Turkey and Greece. A record was hit in 2020, when almost 15,500 tonnes of watermelons were imported into Moldova. At the same time, grape imports decreased in 2011-2021, reaching several hundred tonnes a year, from such countries as Spain, Namibia, Italy and Chile. Among the imported vegetables, potatoes are imported in the largest quantities, mainly from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Romania.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion and carrots are also imported into Moldova. Imports of garlic declined two times in ten years. Even if sunflower and sugar beet are cultivated in Moldova, oil imports rose over six times in ten years, while sugar imports grew over four times. Meat and milk imports also increased considerably, with such products being bought mostly from Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Romania.

Expert of the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives “Viitorul” Viorel Chivriga told RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service that the permanent decline of the animal breeding sector is the main cause why Moldova imports large quantities of meat and milk. The number of cows diminished from 1.15 million in 1980 to 104,000 in 2022. The meadows also decreased in area, while cattle and poultry breeders did not have enough funds to modernize farms.

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