Organizator: Ziarul BURSA

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The Agricultural strategy, waiting for a favorable political climate

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    Almost 200 people have attended the "Profitable Agri-Business", organized by "BURSA". The guests have approached new topics in the agricultural sector, such as the reformation of the Common Agricultural Policy or the creation of the mutual funds for agricultural guarantee, as well as recurring problems of the farmers, specifically the financing of agriculture and the rebuilding of the irrigation system.
    Producers, processors, the authorities and the lenders (banks, non-banking institutions, the government - through subsidies) should work towards generating added value which must contribute to the entire economic circuit, as shown by the debates which took place yesterday.

    The notorious political agreement, called a pact or agricultural pact, which the authorities and the civil society have worked on throughout summer and which was supposed to be ready in September, is a long way coming. Daniel Constantin, the minister of Agriculture told us: "I still believe that a political agreement is necessary to develop agriculture in the long run, be it called a pact or a strategy. This very much depends on the political climate. Only when a consensus is reached in that regard, will we put forward that strategy, which will end up in the Parliament, for approval".

    The plan to introduce agriculture into a National Strategy was begun in 2009, when president Traian Băsescu set up the Commission which is currently working on the document in question. The National Strategy for Agriculture is perhaps one of the most awaited plans for the revitalization of this sector.

    The Commission which has drawn up the document has also counted on the support of president Traian Basescu, who has repeatedly reiterated the need to draw up a long term plan for supporting agriculture and increase competitiveness in this sector. In turn, the Ministry of Agriculture has been working the entire summer on another strategy for the sector, which was supposed to be ready this autumn.

    The money allocated from the state budget for agricultural development in 2014, will be enough for rural development

    The amount of the budget allocated for agriculture in 2014 will be enough for the rural development budget, according to the statements of the minister. Mr. Daniel Constantin told us: "Of course, agriculture will not have a budget in line with my requirements, but enough money will be allocated for the rural development segment". The recurring problem of the funding of the agricultural sector will remain the main issue of all the debates between the business sector and the authorities. A good chunk of the European projects co-financed by the Romanian state have gotten stuck precisely because of the limited funds allocated from the budget over the last few years.

    Speaking about the issues which the farmers have when it comes to lending, the Ministry of Agriculture has admitted that the banking sector hasn't been exactly friendly to farmers, but has emphasized the fact that the new legislation (ed. note: as to what concerns the signing of the conventions with the banks that can grant loans guaranteed by the Payment Agency) will gradually change the banks' behavior when it comes to the financing of agriculture. "Even though there were only 11 banks that have signed agreements with the APIA after we have changed the legislation we have noticed that their attitude on financing farmers is changing. For example, two small banks started offering far better terms than they did in the past".

    When it comes to financing, the farmers will have available the microlending fund which will be managed by a single bank, offering lower interest rates, over a grace period of three years, as well as a duration of the loans of up to 10 years. Up to 80% of the borrowed amounts will be guaranteed by the state.

    The minister of Agriculture has also warned about the role of consulting firms in accessing European funds which take advantage of the misinformed farmers. In that regard, he has explained: "Our intention is not to promote not only at the level of the Ministry of Agriculture, but in the Government as well, the idea of accrediting the consultants, like notaries, for instance. Because, unfortunately, there are currently many consulting firms that take advantage of the fact that the farmers looking to develop have insufficient information.

    Five banks will grant loans with a 10% downpayment advance to farmers looking to buy farmland

    The Fund for the Guarantee of Rural Loans (FGCR) is currently negotiating with five major banks which will provide farmers with loans for the acquisition of farmland with an advance payment of 10%. The farmers who want to buy up to 1,000 hectares of farmland can do so throughout the year based on the facilities derived from an agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Fund for the Guarantee of Rural Loans (FGCR). They have the ability to buy plots of land under special conditions, the only requirement being a 10% downpayment. Half of the remaining 90% would be guaranteed by the state through the Guarantee Fund, and the other half would be guaranteed by using the plot of land as collateral. As a result, those who are concerned over the liberalization of the land market starting on January 1st, 2014, have the possibility to acquire up to 1,000 hectares of land, so that they can conduct their own farming business, the Ministry said.