Romania expects surplus grain crops this year, to keep exports going

Source:  Zawya

Weather and higher production costs mean Romania’s grain crops will be somewhat lower than last year’s bumper harvest, but still ensure enough surplus for exports, Agriculture Minister Adrian Chesnoiu said.

Romania has been among the largest grain sellers in the European Union and is an active exporter to the Middle East, with Egypt the main buyer.

It exports through its flagship port of Constanta, which Ukraine has been using as an alternative route since Russia blocked its Black Sea ports almost four months ago, and Chesnoiu said the port was feeling the pressure.

Romania reaped record high grain crops in 2021, including 11.3 million tonnes of wheat. Its grain crops are generally two to three times higher than its domestic needs.

“We will certainly have a stable production this year, to me this means having an export surplus,” Chesnoiu told in an interview.

“If 2021 was a near perfect agricultural year, 2022 is nowhere close to perfect in terms of weather and pressure on production costs. Obviously production will likely not be at the same level, but it will ensure domestic consumption and a surplus for exports.”

Asian flour millers are likely to increase wheat purchases from France and Romania in the new crop year as supplies from key global exporter Ukraine remain cut off following the invasion by Russia, trade sources said.

“It is important to us that … we maintain a stable production level,” Chesnoiu said. “That way, by not lowering grain quantities produced in Romania, there won’t be further market pressures.”

Chesnoiu said he hoped Romanian farmers would use available EU funds in the next 3 to 5 years to increase their processing capacity and bring added value to their crops.

He also said potential risk factors which could trigger export restrictions this year were non-existent at the moment.

“If Ukraine, a country which is under siege, has not blocked exports, imagine what type of conditions would need to be met for Romania to block its own grain exports,” Chesnoiu said.

While Ukraine has only sent through Romania less than 4% of the 20 million tonnes of grains it needs to move, observers said the new harvest starting at the end of July will trigger bottlenecks.

Chesnoiu said pressure on the port of Constanta existed even before the war in Ukraine at Romanian peak harvest times, and that it is being felt more strongly now. He said the port will invest to expand its capacity.

The port shipped a record high 25.2 million tonnes of grain from Romania and its landlocked neighbours last year.

Chesnoiu said he did not expect grain storage to be a problem for Romanian farmers this year, with a capacity of 29 million tons and growing.

He also said Romania could provide temporary grain storage for Ukraine after the new harvest if needed.

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