Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. It is heavily dependant on agriculture, yet fails to feed and employ its poor because of its highly diverse climate. In 2015, 9.6% of its citizens lived in absolute poverty. According to the United Nations, it has failed to adapt to changing weather patterns because most agricultural technology is dated to the 1970s and 80s. With these outdated technologies, poverty eradication in Moldova requires much attention to detail, patience and global aid.
Moldova has a history of famine. In 1947, under the Soviet Union, Moldova faced a drought that yielded less than half of what it harvested in 1940. While still recovering from the fallout of the Soviet Era, another devasting famine hit the country in 2007. The United Nations World Food Program claims the 2007 famine was “the most severe in living memory.” Once more in 2012, this small country suffered environmental damage and lost $1 billion of its $8 billion dollar GDP in 2011. This event struck 70% of Moldova’s cereal crops, 25% of its cattle, 50% of its pigs and 25% of all its chickens.
Moldova is heavily dependent on agriculture despite its history of drought. This sector accounts for 14.5% of its GDP and around 40% of the total employed population, with 70% in rural areas. Additionally, this sector occupies about 60% of all land. This poses serious concerns about the way the agriculture sector functions, long-term infrastructural changes and short-term technological innovations in Moldova. Here are six facts about the agricultural sector in Moldova and agricultural innovations in poverty eradication in Moldova.
6 Facts About the Agricultural Sector in Moldova
- Because much farming is small-scale, the country lacks the necessary robust infrastructure to feed its population or provide stable employment. Approximately 98% of farmers are small-scale and therefore lack the ability to produce economies of scale. Economies of scale are typically understood to make each unit produced cheaper through the ability to invest in more expensive, but more efficient, machinery. This increased profit margin also protects against economic shocks, such as droughts. Without these profit margins, farmers lack the capital to invest in technologies that can help them overcome poverty.
- Moldova is particularly notable because its patterns of migratory work do not necessarily reflect those of other nations for which remittances make up a significant portion of gross domestic product. Many Moldovans work in Western Europe, Israel and Russia while sending money to their home country. Unlike other countries, however, these workers are largely seasonal, because they do not move permanently to the nations they work in and instead send money home. In the off-season, they return to Moldova. As a result, Moldovans need critical agricultural infrastructure so citizens may make ends meet when they are not working in other countries.
- The government and private investors are taking tangible steps towards technological advancements and infrastructural changes. There has been a push away from crops vulnerable to climate versatility, like wheat, and towards climate-resistant crops, like the sunflower. The World Bank recommends that the country can do more, like investing in economically efficient irrigation, pest management and research for better weather forecasts.
- The World Bank is pushing for global contributions. Funds from the World Bank are providing measurable changes in agricultural infrastructure. In 2017, the bank helped fund more efficient irrigation systems that allow farmers to see a 40% increase in crops despite more rainy days.
- USAID’s High Value Agriculture Activity in Moldova, a project geared towards poverty eradication in Moldova, has created an Agriculture Innovation and Technology Transfer Fund. This fund should help popularize modern-planting along with technologies for preservation after harvesting and help critical technology meet safety standards in trade. Expectations are that sales will increase by $84 million, an additional 280 farmers with utilize new harvesting technologies and 5,000 people will receive training to use those new harvesting technologies.
- In 2010, The World Bank outlined long-term goals to eradicate poverty in Moldova. These include creating economies of scale, diversifying the economy and creating platforms to better coordinate and share knowledge. All of these are necessary to attract private investment, which can then lead to even greater growth and permanent opportunities. Yet, these long-term goals prove difficult to approach, because there will be little measurable effect if many poor farmers cannot afford to invest in new technology.
Investment in technological innovations in the agricultural sector should help with poverty eradication in Moldova. It should provide food for the hungry, jobs for the poor, ameliorate impacts of environmental catastrophe and boost the country’s economy. With this additional money, the country can begin to invest in the World Bank’s long-term goals.
Aid is essential to the survival of this small country. Moldova has successfully created a highly specialized elite force and researched better alternatives to current crops. Additionally, companies offering economically efficient energy have emerged. According to the United Nations, however, global investment is necessary so farmers may have access to technologies and crops that resist climate challenges.
– Bisma Punjani
Photo: Wikimedia Commons