The World Bank is extending $10 million in credit for agricultural improvements through its Moldova Agriculture Competitiveness Project.
Moldova trades with the EU under the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area pact, which allows it common-market access for including agricultural produce.
The $31 million World Bank-backed competitiveness project should help producers access that market by modernising the country’s food safety infrastructure and boosting the amount of produce grown to EU standards. The project also supports smallholder farmers and encourages sustainable land-management practices.
The World Bank has said that Moldova’s rich soil, mild climate and proximity to the European market give its agriculture sector strong growth potential. A World Bank report found that fruits, vegetables and nuts accounted for 33 percent of Moldova’s exports between 2011 and 2013, and it views the sector as particularly competitive.
Although agricultural exports grew in value from $90 million in 2002 to roughly $460 million in 2013, Moldovan farmers are challenged by a lack of scale. Fewer than 1,000 of the country’s 900,000 farms are larger than 10 hectares. Moldovan agricultural produce often falls short of EU standards for quality, traceability, safety and packaging.
“…A lot of Moldovans depend on farming for jobs and foreign currency,” said Alexander Kremer, World Bank country manager for Moldova. “This project will help ordinary people in the countryside get jobs, even in difficult economic times.”