Romania might become the largest corn producer in the EU this year, according to estimations of the Romania’s Corn Producers Association (APPR). The association projects that Romania’s corn production will reach about 13 million tons this year, up from more than 10 million in 2016. Romania was the largest sunflower seeds producer (almost 2mn tons) and the fifth largest wheat producer (above 8mn tons) in the EU last year. Total value of the corn harvest reached EUR1.5bn last year, of which almost one third was exported.
Despite improving cereal harvests, Romania lacks processing capacity, so exports of unprocessed food or low value-added products are rising, while imports of processed and more expensive food are increasing, Alina Cretu, Executive Director of APPR, said. In addition, the poor transport infrastructure makes very hard for farmers to boost trade and develop robust business. The agriculture benefited from rising investments in technology and productivity increase in the past years, which had positive effects on the harvests. Still, the processing chain ends too fast and most of the output is exported instead of being processed domestically, Cretu commented.
Romania’s food trade deficit is large, at about EUR2bn annually, but could diminish significantly with proper investments in production capacities and improved infrastructure. Moreover, Romania’s food export capacity is of about EUR20bn annually, but currently exports only around EUR4bn in food, Alina Cretu said. Thus, a boost of exports would also add up to the food trade balance improvement.