Romania is facing severe drought, even worse than the one in 1947, according to some voices
In 2015, Romania was launching a programme to revamp its old irrigation system. It was an ambitious 5-year programme targeting a total surface area of around 2 million hectares by the end of 2020.
However, at present only about 850,000 hectares are irrigable, and the programme was extended several years. In other words, only 10% of the country’s total farm area can be irrigated.
Even so, farmers have only filed applications for around 100,000 hectares, says the line minister Adrian Oros. The situation is dramatic, because although Romania takes pride in its fertile land, its agriculture continues to rely heavily on the weather.
And it has hardly rained at all in Romania over the past few months, there was little to no snow during the winter, and the consequences are increasingly evident.
According to centralised data, in April we had 7 litres of precipitation per square metre, as opposed to an average of 53 litres.
In short, Romania is facing a drought described by Minister Adrian Oros as “strong and extreme, as we haven’t seen in recent years”.
The worst situation in reported in Dobrogea, Bărăgan and Moldavia, that is in the south-east, south and east of the country. Here is how Nicolae Moraru, the mayor of a village in the east, describes the situation:
Nicolae Moraru: “There are farmers in difficult positions, who own 400 - 500 hectares each and incur substantial expenses. They are threatened by bankruptcy. They have used their land, property, homes as collaterals. The situation is disastrous in our region.”
According to the Agriculture Ministry, 3 million hectares under crops since autumn are already destroyed. The rape, wheat, rye and barley crops are the most affected. Many farmers already warn that bread will be more expensive this autumn, although authorities argue that it is too soon to tell.
In an interview to a private TV channel, minister Adrian Oros explained that even if half of the crops were destroyed, the domestic demand would still be covered:
Adrian Oros: “It is much too soon. What happens in Europe and in the rest of the world is also important. During the good years, when it rained enough, Romania’s wheat yield was 7, 8 or even 9 million tons of wheat, and we only use around 2 and a half to 3 million tons. The same for maize, the yield was 14-15 million tons, and the maximum demand in Romania is 7 million tons. So even if half the crops were destroyed, the domestic demand would still be covered.”
Weather experts bring us a piece of good news: on Friday they expect rain across the country. But the precipitation amount is not likely to be very large—an average of 10 litres per square metre.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)