The way the so-called reconversion in fruit growing began, the very small number of projects approved in 2015 and the enormous amount that will be carried this year give birth to a series of questions:

Of the 56, only 13 were lucky

The National Fruit Growing Conference held last month in Brasov was a good opportunity for a radiography of the process of absorption of European money through Submeasure 4.1.a for investment in reconversions, upgrades and the establishment of new orchards. Here is what the figures say: in 2015, the Institute of Fruit Growing from Maracineni and the subordinated research stations approved 56 fruit growing projects, 18 species of the 25 present in the Law on fruit growing, located in 26 counties from the 41 of the country. Out of the 56 approved projects, only 13 were lucky and will receive European funds, which means that from the first session, will be made investments on 772.6 ha, with an average of 13.8 ha for each project. The 13 projects approved represent 10.6% (meaning 7 million euros) of the approved amount (68 million euros). In other words, 61 million euro, unspent money in fruit growing, will be rolled over in the session to be opened soon for 2016. As regards the winning species, out of 25 present in law and 18 approved, only 4 were approved. It is about the apple that won 3 projects, cherry with 6 projects, seabuck with 3 projects and aronia with 1 project. The list of approved projects has also been a surprise for consultants.

However, Timisoara, a fruit-growing area with potential, had no project submitted, which should be an alarm signal for the authorities. At the opposite pole Iasi County, which submitted 15 projects, had only two approved. It is also strange that in Alba Iulia, where 8 projects have been submitted, not even a project has received approval, although it was about different consultancy companies that have drafted the projects. We could say that the money transferred are not lost and that it will leave room for investments for several producers. However, if we make a calculation, we can say that the money is enough for 250 projects, but at a success rate of 20% means that no less than 1,500 projects should be submitted. What do we do with this number? "It's impossible, because we do not have so many consultancy companies prepared, the resorts can not approve such a large number of technical projects in such a short time, plus we do not have the necessary biological material especially needed for fruit trees." Do you wonder why this situation? The most involved in this process, consultants and beneficiaries, say that "Romania is not ready, the guide is elliptical, the consultants are not prepared and the beneficiaries are not informed."

Domestic pomiculture material, but uncertified

We have fruit growers eager to invest in this sector, many already make it from their own money, but to speed up the replacement of old orchards with young, vigorous and productive fruit growing material, the creation of fruit storage and processing centers require serious investments. European funds should be a mouthpiece of oxygen for entrepreneurs, but often they seem to be an unreachable dream for the fact that the money for co-financing is difficult to get and the steps of drawing up an eligible project are extremely cumbersome. This is the perspective that potential beneficiaries see. But it is sad that neither the representatives of the Institute from Maracineni or the subordinated resorts are not too happy because they see themselves unable to ensure the need for fruit trees.

In Romania there are about 100 private nurseries based mainly on the Aiud center, which produces about 2 million trees, but 90% of them are of an ineligible category. The problem is that nurseries in Romania are not well organized; I refer not only to those producing fruit planting material, but also to the resorts and institutes that own the mother plantations, which provide certified material from an insufficient area for the supply of branches, grafts and rootstocks of these nurseries” said at the National Conference of Fruit Growers Mihai Coman, the director of the Pomiculture Institute from Maracineni.

According to the same specialist, the apple trees are on the rootstock 9 and the trees needed are 536,236, while the cherry needs 150,000 trees and walnut up to 30,000 trees, given that the projects will be funded in autumn this year and this amount must be ensured in a very short time. So, we are talking about fruit planting material for which Romania is not ready to provide to farmers with such quantities in autumn 2016.

Neither for the walnut the situation is not too pink, because we have certified material for 50-60 ha and the market demand is about 1,000 ha / year. What do we do, given that only certified trees are eligible for European money? Fruit growers request a derogation from this rule in the sense of allowing the conform propagating material (Conformitas Agraria Communitatis), that is the fruit propagating and planting material satisfying the minimum conditions specified for this category, established by technical rules and regulations.

„Nurseries say that they do not want to multiply varieties from other countries because they will have problems with pedoclimatic conditions. Under these circumstances, I think that allowing the planting of planting material for a period of 2-3 years until the mother plantations will start to produce is one of the saving ideas if we speak of native varieties. Attention, the choice of untested varieties and rootstocks in local conditions is an error with serious consequences in the medium and long term”, Mihai Coman also said.