By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest
China wants to establish an export base in Romania from where to annually import three million pigs, three million sheep, 500,000 cattle and cereals, the Romanian ministry of Agriculture announced.
“An element which can have a decisive importance for the development of agriculture and why not of the rural environment in Romania is China’s special interest. I have recently talked to the Chinese ambassador in Romania and they have a very important task: setting up a base for massive exports to China. We are talking about three million pigs, three million sheep, 500,000 cattle, plus cereals. In a first stage, they want to buy 8,000 cattle for reproduction” Achim Irimescu, state secretary in Romania’s ministry of Agriculture, said during a conference dedicated to the Romanian agriculture.
Irimescu admitted Romania doesn’t have the capacity to sustain such exports for the moment, but, one a large export market is established, the country can increase production. He also pointed out Romania has competitive prices for sheep and cattle.
The Romanian official said he also discussed with large Chinese construction companies about the possibility to build a modern irrigation system. “Rebuilding the irrigation system takes a lot of energy in order to push the water up-hill. It is not our idea, Turkey is already applying it, building 1,000 lakes on the inland rivers. I think this can be an extraordinary solution for us as well and I have discussed it with China. They have the money and we could build dams on inland rivers where to collect water in spring and autumn, we can grow fish and when necessary use the water” Irimescu underlined.
Romanian officials previously said the country needs about a billion Euros to restore its irrigation infrastructure. Romania’s irrigation system covers about 30 per cent of Romania’s territory and, if entirely restored and modernized, the country would no longer have to import grains, specialists stress. Before 1989, during communist regime, Romania had an effective nationwide irrigation system, of which only ten per cent is left operating nowadays.
Irimescu’s statements come days before a summit in Bucharest between China and leaders of Central and Eastern Europe countries dedicated to developing economic ties.
Romania has started paying increased attention agriculture. Recently, the Romanian Parliament approved an extended 2014 budget for the Ministry of Agriculture reaching 19.4 billion lei (4.3 billion Euros), 7.8 per cent more than this year’s budget.