• Post category:Events

At the INDAGRA trade fair, a fruit grower's meeting was organized by the Holland House of Fruit Growing, a commendable initiative that takes place several times a year and which aims to discuss key issues regarding the implementation of projects to be funded by European funds.

This time, in the focus of specialists was the Sub-measure 4.1.a – Investments in fruit holdings.  

"Without these meetings, we run the risk of staying with written and unfunded projects. Things are going well and, as we informed the Ministry of Agriculture, we are surprised by the great interest that was born this year, we already have over 300 projects submitted. There are a few other things to do regarding the standard cost and nursery cost. The problem of the fruit nurseries was not initially thought, but if in the middle of this Sub-measure 4.1 there are nurseries that want to be financially supported is very well and we will write these standard costs and these guides. ", declared for “Lumea Satului” at the end of the meeting.

By analyzing what has happened since 2015 to present, the conclusion is that there is no finalized contract, but only partial payments. 

Why? There are many causes: the bureaucracy, the big number of documents requested at the time of filing the files, the very long deadlines for obtaining them, the lack of certified seedlings, the lack of specialized firms in the integrated execution of the planting works and the qualified staff in fruit growing. 

"Initially, when we thought this project and we saw the amount, we hoped that the orchard area by 2020 or just after it to be over 10,000 hectares. Now, in 2017, we are in the middle of the financial support period and we can say that have been done projects, they have approved for half the money, but if we look at the surface it is up to 4,000 ha. This means there are a lot of other expenses that are done apart from the seedlings.

„If Poland enjoys 40,000 hectares of fruit trees surfaces on only one species – apple, Romania, with the 10,000 hectares of orchards that we hope to raise with this sub-measure from PNDR, it is only a little progress. It means a little, but at the same time a lot, because the restoration of the fruit trees surfaces is restarted. We come from more than 300,000 ha, from a planting rate of 4,000-5,000 ha / year and a am not nostalgic. That’s what happened in Romania. With this step, we return to the restoration of these orchards, it is just a beginning”, remarked also Mihai Coman. 

During this meeting was discussed also about the wish that this pomiculture program to continue beyond 2020. 

„Romania has the obligation, where necessary, to continue the negotiations for the resumption of this sub-measure in one form or another (PNDR or reconversion),” said Mihai Coman. 

"Should be made steps as in 2020, in the new European program, the pomiculture to occupy an important place and to be allocated a larger amount. Let's look at Poland or better at the Republic of Moldova, which has 20,000 ha only of walnut-only and all the investments are made on repayable funds from the World Bank, while we still have 2,000 ha of walnut."

In order to increase the access level of this sub-measure, Romanian officials have operated a number of simplifications, including: eliminating the obligation to use scientifically tested varieties, allowing the processing of fruits from third parties, the favorability note has fallen from 2.4 to 2.0, the decrease of the size of the eligible farms from € 8,000 to € 4,000, increasing the support ceiling for nurseries from € 600,000 to € 1,050,000euro, allowing the use of fruit planting material CAC for hazelnuts and walnuts for the sessions opened in 2017. 

The problem is whether, at the time of implementation of the projects, there will be enough certified seedlings on the Romanian market. Especially that during this period there is a deadline for the restoration of the mother plantations and each state has signed orders that have copied European directives through which is limited the total area with standard propagating material or CAC (uncertified). 

I asked for the opinion of the specialist to get a perspective of the approach started this year through Sub-measure 4.1., asking how the fruit sector will look in 2020. Here is the answer: 

„In 2020 all abandoned orchards will be grubbed up, which is particularly important because they are an important source of diseases and pests in Romania. Let’s not forget that after 1990 we woke up with 300,000 ha, of which in 2000 much was left. They did the 20-25 years cycle. It will be a more modern pomiculture, we do not need large areas, it can be even smaller but with high densities, intensive, superintensive with 3,000-4,000 trees / ha. We will not be able to meet the demand for fruit, investing in fruit growing requires patience, that’s why it’s obligatory another development cycle in order to be able to talk about a consumption of 60-70% of the domestic production. 

"In my opinion, the pomiculture program works well, but the length of the sessions should be of 6-8 months because it is a tedious process. You need a lot of documents, pedological study, topo picking, level curves, hydrogeological study and technical project, which lasts if you want to make good, implementable and, ultimately, successful projects. Unfortunately, many of the submitted projects, I have seen, are bad, will not be a long-term success. However, I have noted AFIR's willingness to remove documents and to move them to the contracting stage because they are not essential at the filing stage. What is not going well is the implementation of the projects, the procedures are not very clear for this stage or, better said, are clear at the procedural level, but they are not understood by the experts in the territory, being a new field for them. They have their first payment requests, the first purchase dossiers. For the other measures they had time to learn from 2004 until 2017.

The implementation works hard, no project is completed, but this is not a very alarming signal because we still have 3 years of implementation. The fruit growing will absorb all the money, and even steps should be taken at the level of state secretaries who go to Brussels to prepare an additional demand for the 10% that can easily be obtained on this measure and possibly the unspent money on other measures to be reallocated to fruit growing. I say this because an orchard is an investment with an economic impact, it lasts at least 18 years in superintensive up to 80 years for huckleberry or hazelnut, „said Mihai Ciobanu, consultant on European funds.