Friday, January 23, 2009

Romania's farm subsidies increase, production declines in 2008

BUCHAREST, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Romania's farm subsidies rose to more than 3.4 billion lei (about 1.3 billion U.S. dollars) in 2008from 300 million lei in 2004 while the cereal production dropped, Agriculture Minister Ilie Sarbu said on Thursday.

"In 2004, cereal production stood at 24 million tons and in 2007 at about 7.8 million tons. Number of per capita animals declined also, cattle by 200,000, sheep by 100,000 and poultry by 6 million," Sarbu told a press conference.

According to him, overall meat production declined by 52,000 tons in 2008 compared to 2004 and this in conditions of a higher consumption, of 3 kg per inhabitant, milk production declined by 570,000 hectoliters, number of eggs fell by 860 million and honey production was down by 2,400 tons.

"We import 70 percent of the pork meat alone, upside down compared to what I left in 2004, when we imported just 30 percent. At the poultry meat the situation is somewhat better, although then we had 120 percent production and exported the surplus. At present, we have an uncovered demand as for poultry meat of 35 percent compensated through imports," the minister said.

Referring to vegetables and fruits, Sarbu said Romania imports some 65 percent of the consumption needs.

At the same time, the minister said that the irrigated areas dropped from 1.5 million hectares in 2004 to just 250,000 hectares, saying that a crisis commission was formed at ministerial level in charge with outlining a strategy in the field of irrigation.

"Under these conditions, the weight of agriculture is of just 7.1 percent of the GDP as against 12.5 percent in 2004," Sarbu said.(1 U.S. dollar = 2.615 lei)

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