Major EU grain exporter pledges solidarity as drought affects harvest


Romania has enough wheat to avoid export restrictions this year, even as severe droughts and a lack of irrigation systems affect the harvest, the prime minister said.

The country will not consider banning grain exports, as it did briefly at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite lower production and increasing protectionism over food security elsewhere, Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said in an interview on Tuesday. Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine has increased the need for nations to help each other, he added.

“Despite a drop in production, we will have enough wheat for export this year, but we’re still collecting data on the other crops and trying to see how we can help farmers,” said Ciuca, 55, in Bucharest, but declined , to give an estimate of the harvest. “I don’t think we need to impose a ban because when you ask for solidarity, you also have to show solidarity.”

The war has severely undercut supplies from Ukraine, which is normally one of the world’s largest suppliers of wheat, corn and vegetable oil, threatening the food security of many industrialized nations heavily dependent on grain imports.

Romania was the top maize exporter in the European Union last season and the second-biggest wheat exporter. It has also become the largest channel for grain from Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, transporting cargo by rail and water to the Black Sea port of Constanta to date exporting more than 1.3 million tons.

The Ciuca government plans to increase investment in irrigation to limit future crop damage after being systematically neglected in previous decades, Ciuca said. It will allocate almost 2 billion euros ($2 billion) to irrigation projects and is asking Brussels for leniency so it can use part of an EU pandemic-recovery package for agriculture and food safety.

He also said Constanta will continue to be an important artery for Ukrainian exports, even after the first ship carrying grain left the port of Odessa this week since the Russian attack. The government is working to expand the port’s capacity to accommodate the increasing traffic, Ciuca said.

Bloomberg. Major EU grain exporter pledges solidarity as drought affects harvest

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