The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a global standstill becoming one of the biggest challenges since World War II. The news about the market for products from horticulture are contradictory: Apples sales increased during the crisis, but international fruit trade will probably be reduced this year. How will this situation impact on farmers’ long-term investment decisions?
Liviu Burcovschi, a 55-year old farmer from the north of Moldova, made up his own opinion: He is one of those who decided to continue the investments into his family farm – even after Moldova went into lockdown. Through its project “Fruit Garden of Moldova”, the EU helped him to access financing to mechanise some of the work in the orchard in order to increase labour productivity. Liviu compiled an investment project worth about 36,000 EUR of which he financed half from his own resources. For the other half, he chose a loan from his bank in local currency, which is being financed from resources of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and comes with preferential terms. EIB approved Liviu’s project in April 2020, just in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
Eleven years ago, Liviu had planted his first apple orchard on land inherited from his parents in his native village. He was a fruit trader until 2016, but then decided to officially register a peasant farm to turn a side-activity into a real family business specialised in growing tree fruits. Now the peasant farm in Ocnita District has 9.7 ha of apple and 1.9 ha of cherry orchards. A year ago, Liviu moved from Chisinau back to his native village of Sauca. It was a move for good together with his family. Liviu is thankful that his two grandchildren also moved and he is sure that they will be the ones who will follow the path of their grandfather.
This investment has helped to create two permanent jobs for field operations, the first ones in his farm as until now he only employed 15 seasonal workers during harvest.
And this is not an isolated case. During the corona-induced state of emergency in Moldova from mid-March to mid-May, 21 farmers and small entrepreneurs applied for loans from the EIB Fruit-Garden-of-Moldova credit line, which is 40% more than during the same period of 2019. By now, over 130 loans of altogether nearly 35 million EUR have been allocated in the frame of the Fruit-Garden-of-Moldova credit line.