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Economy

5 Moldovan products you didn’t know about that could take the country’s exports to a new level

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The Republic of Moldova is a small country, so are its annual exports. In 2017, the annual Moldovan exports amounted $2.42 billion, according to the National Statistical Bureau (NBS). Of course, that is a drop in the ocean when compared to Germany, for example, that registered an amount of $1450.21 billion for the same period. However, it means a lot for a tiny country situated at the edge of Europe, with a weakened economy as a consequence of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. So, what is so special about the Moldovan exports besides the wine and the exported professional human capital? What are the Moldovan products that have the potential to increase the Moldovan exports and make Moldova sound more familiar on the global market?

First of all, it should be mentioned that Moldova is merely specialised in agri-food products. Therefore, this is one of the directions with a great potential for the Moldovan exports as long as the local producers abide by the international production standards. There were about 70 certified Eco producers in Moldova, according to the data from 2016, of which 30 are oriented to the local market and 40 to the export.

1. Honey from Moldova

Photo source: adevarul.ro

Honey never was an export product until the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. However, things have changes since the liberalization of trade with the EU and the US Government’s support for Moldovan beekeepers. In recent years, exports have increased from half a million dollars at the beginning, to 14 million dollars annually. Romania, Italy and France consume two thirds of Moldovan honey designated to exports.

According to Veaceslav Ioniță, an economist from the Republic of Moldova, “we are now witnessing the rebirth of a promising product for the export in the Republic of Moldova: Organic Honey,” mentioned Ioniță on his blog.

With the support of the US Farming Program, the Organic Honey of the Moldovan beekeepers will start to be certified in the summer of 2019, which means a potential of doubling the exports over the next 2-3 years.

2. Lavender oil from Moldova

Photo source: mamaplus.md

I bet you didn’t know that the lavender essential oil manufactured in Moldova is one of the most appreciated lavender oils in the world, besides the Bulgarian, French, Chinese and South African one. The climatic conditions, fertile soil and the available manual labour force are the main factors that contribute to a successful product. For producing the organic oil, hundreds of people are involved in the care and harvesting process of the plants. All the work is done manually, as the use of automated systems reduces the quality of the oil.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2014, 569 hectares of lavender were planted in the Republic of Moldova. The farmers and entrepreneurs also cultivate sage, fennel, roses, mint, etc. France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg are just some of the countries where the Moldovan lavender essential oil is exported to.

3. Almonds from Moldova

Photo source: madein.md

Almonds cultivation is not a very popular activity in the Republic of Moldova, as it originates from the Mediterranean area. However, the Moldovan farmers started to be more and more interested in producing almonds and exporting them to Europe and Asia.

The family Golban is one of those families that decided to start an activity related to almond cultivation. They planted their almond orchard in 2006. “The almonds harvested in 2014 were sold to some intermediaries who exported them. We had to accept a small price, because we did not have a warehouse where we would have kept them. This year, as we received financial help through a state grant, we managed to build a warehouse. Now that we have where to keep them, we can sell almonds at a better price,” said Tamara, a Golban family member. The family farm already obtained the Eco certification. Every year the farm produces 5-6 tones of the product that is sold internally and is exported as well. Besides the almond seeds, almond flour and oil are also produced. From the almond bark briquettes are obtained, used by the family to heat the household.

4. Berries from Moldova

Photo source: madein.md

Blueberry, goji, strawberry, raspberry, gooseberry, currant – these berries along with other kinds are already gardened in the Republic of Moldova.

There is even a public association called “Pomuşoarele Moldovei”, which would be translated as “The Berries of Moldova”, launched in 2012 at the initiative of some producers. It aims to promote and develop the tradition of production of berries in Moldova, and to stimulate their consumption as an ecological product with beneficial effects. The Association intends to achieve these goals by promoting advanced technologies, by providing assistance in business development, public policy, marketing and cooperation. Nowadays, it encompasses 1200 farmers from Moldova that own 2700 hectares of plantations in 10 different regions.

The berries are sold fresh or frozen. Also, jams, syrups, pasta and sweets are obtained from them. “Today, more and more international projects are ready to offer their financial support and conciliation for the Moldovan berry producers,” declared Anatolie Paladi, the executive director of Advisory Center Business.

5. Cheese from Moldova

Branza de Popeasca
Photo source: moldnova.eu

Just like in the case of wine making, almost every household in Moldova produces traditional, home-made cheese. Moldovan people love cheese, called here “brânză” or “caș”. In the last year, more and more cheese producers appeared on the market. Some of them manage to export their products.

There are farmers that produce cheese after the original recipe of Gouda, Tomme, Crottin, Mozzarella, Cheddar, etc. The technologies are foreign, the ingredients are local. In such a way, a tasty, qualitative, certified and relatively cheap cheese can be obtained.

Moreover, a unique kind of cheese is produced in Moldova as well – “Brânza de Popeasca”, a product that is protected by the European Commission. It is one of the few authentic products from Moldova that were qualified as products with a protected designation of origin. Once it obtained such a labelling, it can no longer be manufactured according to the same recipe and the same name anywhere in the world. “Brânza de Popeasca” is a cheese with different additions like dill, parsley, olives, and other kinds of cheese.

Still, the biggest problem of the domestic cheesemakers in Moldova remains the market. Large retailers have conditions that farmers can’t meet, and the state has no policies to promote local producers.

Generally, the Moldovan exports depend very much on the regional market ‘mood’ and the decisions of the political leaders from the closest partner countries. For example, the Moldovan wine producers, including those from the Transnistrian region, were recently overwhelmed by a decision taken by the Russian authorities to impose trade restrictions on Ukraine. Consequently, products that have to transit Ukraine were also affected. Some of the exporters from Moldova already targeted the Korean, Chinese, Japanese, EU and American markets as an alternative for the CIS states, inspiring other exporters to do the same thing.

Hence, whereas in 2005, the Moldovan exports to the CIS states represented 50.5% of the total exports, it decreased to a share of 19.1% in 2017, according to the NBS data. In the same time, the exports to the EU member states increased from a share of 40.6% of the total exports in 2005 to 65.8% in 2017. A raising trend is also registered in the case of China, Japan, USA, South Korea and other countries. The share of the total exports for these countries raised from 8.8% in 2005 to 15.1% in 2017.

Society

“Pobeda” – the last Moldovan kolkhoz

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Copceac is a village situated near the Ukrainian border, being separated from the main territory of the Autonomous Territorial Unit (ATU) of Gagauzia. Locals proudly claim that their dialect is similar to the old Gagauz language and sounds more like orthodox version of Turkish. This could be caused by the enclaved position of the village: from one side, there is a national border with no crossing points and a Bulgarian settlement from another side.

That is not the only thing that was preserved through time in this village though. The village of Copceac has on its territory the last kolkhoz in Moldova and one of the few remaining from the entire region of Eastern Europe.

Workers of the viticulture team prepare themselves for spraying the grape gardens of Kolkhoz “Pobeda”. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova

Workers of the viticulture team being transported to the grape gardens of Kolkhoz “Pobeda”. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova.

Kolkhoz “Pobeda (tr. as “Victory”) was founded in 1947. In its best times, workers of the collective farm were growing different crops, such as sunflower, corn, grapes, tobacco, plums, peaches, as well as were raising livestock. However, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a lot of things have changed.

Archived photos from Kolkhoz “Pobeda” stored at Copceac public library. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova

Workers and land sections’ holders, who were used to the way things worked before, decided to continue the same way. Later on, the failed state program of land privatisation implemented during 90’s only confirmed that the decision to continue as during the Soviet period was the right one.

Still, the workers of “Pobeda” cannot enjoy their victory at the moment, being quite sober about the situation at the farm. During the most productive Soviet times, there were around 4000 people working, while today this number shrunk to around 300. In Soviet times, one had few options to do something else. Nowadays, villagers choose mainly to leave the country for seasonal work. Others work in construction business to serve those who come back with savings to build a new house.

Workers of the viticulture team tie up young trees at the grape garden of Kolkhoz “Pobeda”. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova.

A boy from Copceac village bought bread from the Kolkhoz “Pobeda” bakery. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova.

Dmitry Dragan, chief of the tractor team “brigada Nr1”, discussing how to manage second harvest of the year after heavy rains. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova.

Harvester operator prepares equipment for the second crops field harvest of the year. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova.

As some workers of the farm recalled, they were proud that it was doing well when other collective farms were broke. Meanwhile, thanks to the grants from the EU and subsidies from the state things got better.

In 2002, after the new legislation on the forms of property was adopted, Kolkhoz stopped to exist as legal entity, but still received state subsidies until 2009. For the last 11 years, there are no subsidies anymore, in contrast to other agricultural entities. When the management learned that no changes can be made to the law, they started to work on adjustment of farm’s status according to the legal framework.

There is also a local bakery in Copceac. It was opened in 2006, being located right next to the kolkhoz mill. People who hold a land section in the kolkhoz have the right to leave their wheat harvest at the bakery and instead they receive coupons. Afterwards, they can exchange their coupons to freshly baked bread or flour.

The bakery produces 1500-2000 loaves a day. Five people per shift work at the bakery, two at the mill.

Inside the mill of Copceac village. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova.

The mill and bakery of Kolkhoz “Pobeda” in centre of Copceac village. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova.

Workers of the bakery prepare dough for the new round of bread to be baked and distributed. Copceac, Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova

Giving the circumstances of Moldovan unstable politics, people are still pessimistic about the future of the country and continue to live in the present moment.

This article was made with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy.

This text is a translation. The original article here.

Photos: Ramin Mazur

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Society

Women from the left bank of the Dniester

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The village of Doroțcaia is located on the eastern side of the Dniester River, near a border crossing point installed by Transnistrian separatists back in 1992. The village, that was a battlefield during the Transnistrian war and went through gunfire and dropped bombs, is the home for 3038 inhabitants nowadays, according to the 2014 census.

“It used to be quiet in the morning. We worked until noon, after which we ran home when bombs and gunshots began to sound throughout the village. We were sleeping in cellars and were afraid that we might not wake up the next day,” revealed Nina Diordiev, a resident of the village that is now under the control of Chisinau authorities.

Most of the local agricultural lands are on the side controlled by Transnistrian authorities. That means people can’t get to their lands without presenting their identity card. Many times the separatists did not allow the locals to reach their lands, which caused them great losses. However, people said that the situation has improved since August 2018 and now they can reach their lands safely.

Doroțcaia is a sun-kissed place, cooled by the wind coming from the Dniester and inundated in flowers’ fragrance. The village has well-kept streets, a museum with centuries-old objects, a beautifully renovated cultural centre and many smiling people.

In Doroțcaia, there are 1560 women (51.3% of the total population). This article paints some of their portraits:

 Eugenia

Eugenia Berzan has been the artistic coordinator of the cultural centre since 2011. Back then, she returned from France with her whole family. She managed to organise many concerts, while introducing modern concepts. Eugenia is the screenwriter, organiser of events and the one who stays behind the curtain and makes sure that everything works perfectly. Although she likes her job, Eugenia still thinks about moving to another country after her daughters graduate from high school. “To have a better future,” as she says.

Mădălina

Mădălina Nicolaev is 8 years old and she really likes football. In time, boys had to accept her in their team. She likes to play so much that often she loses the track of time.

“My father told me that if I played so much, I would faint and fall. So I stay home until 4 p.m., after which I run to the stadium,” she said. Mădălina remembers that her mother wanted her to go to dance lessons, but she chose football.

“Don’t ask me how many times I’ve already changed soccer balls. You don’t want to know…”

Galina

Galina Leașco is a former agronomist. She spends the whole day in the greenhouse where big and flavourful tomatoes grow. Galina also has rabbits, chickens and takes care of her large garden with flowers, trees and vegetables. She is a member of the Nistrenii Folk Ensemble and a woman that always laughs, even if her eyes are full of tears, as she confesses.

Before he died, her husband had been suffering from different illnesses for 20 years. The last years were the hardest times. After a stroke, he started to have epilepsy seizures. “I always had to be by his side, but I couldn’t just stay at home, because I also had to support our three children,” Galina recalled.  She used to take him to her job during the day, and she was staying up all night. In order to make the sleepless nights easier, she began to buy and read love novels and detectives, which are now gathered in a personal library.

Angel’s star

Beside a folk ensemble, a dance troupe and a marching band, there is a a band of five 18-year-old girls called Angel’s Star in Doroțcaia. The band was formed about 5 years ago.

“I was in the 6th or 7th grade when I joined the band. It was already formed, but it still didn’t have a name and they said they needed a drummer,” said Ana, band’s drummer. The girls are the winners of international contests, doing the rehearsals in a small room of the cultural centre. The room has the walls covered with red carpets, for a better sound.

Maria

You can find the house of Maria Crocmazan amid flowers. She has a colourful and fragrant garden, which she takes care of every morning and evening, when the sun does not burn so hard. “In the morning, before work, I go to see them, talk to them and ‘rebuke’ the weed,” confessed Maria, who works as head of village’s warehouse for agricultural goods. Half of her life, she was surrounded by flowers. Maria has always loved them, planted and took care of them.

In Maria’s garden, one can find over 100 rose bushes. She says that the best gift for her is a new flower bud, for which she would choose a place in her garden. Since 2013, Maria has been living in the house she bought from the former mayor of the locality – a hardworking person who built houses, a stadium, a cultural centre, a museum, schools, and an oil mill in the village.

Nina

Nina Diordiev works as a secretary at the mayor’s office. She told us that, during the ’92 conflict, she had to come to work, issue reports and send building materials to people whose houses had been destroyed by bombs.

“It was awful. You never knew what was coming”

Nina use to say that during the summer there is no time for rest. After work, she has to work the land. “People rest during the winter,” she said.

Elena

Elena Toderiță is responsible for cleaning at the town hall and sings in the Nistrenii Folk Ensemble along with other 20 members. At least, that’s what she did until the pandemic. For the past four months, she has been singing in the kitchen. “Before, we used to say we don’t have much time, but now we want to get together,” she claimed.

Aunt Hana

Ana Gherlac is a 77-year-old woman who is also called Aunt Hana by villagers. Her whole life was marked by two wars. “I worked my entire life, but I was left with nothing,” she said. You can meet her at 8 o’clock in the morning on the way home, after she went twice to work her lands. Even if it’s hot outside and this weakens her body, her yard is kept in good order. Previously, Aunt Hana had three cows. Now, she has chickens and geese.

“I didn’t sleep at night. I cleaned, cooked, so that during the day I could go to work”

It’s getting harder now. That day, she couldn’t bring home her groceries bag from the store. “I walked a little and got down. Luckily, I met some villagers and they helped me,” Aunt Hana confessed. In 1992, a bomb fell on her house’s barn and shattered it. Her lungs were damaged when she tried to put out the fire.

This article was made with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy.

This text is a translation. The original article here.

Photos: Dionis Nicolai and Tatiana Beghiu

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Politics

The effect of Russia’s constitutional changes on the Transnistrian region

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A nationwide referendum is held in the Russian Federation between June 25 and July 1 in order to amend the constitution of the country.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunity to vote during several days was provided. The voting process is held outside and, in addition, contactless voting at home, electronic voting and voting using the Mobile Voter mechanism are available.

In the Transnistrian region, voting was allowed for three days, from June 28-30, the whole process being organised under similar conditions as in Russia, the Tass News Agency announced.

According to a survey conducted at 800 Russian polling stations from June 25 to June 28, the majority of voters opted for the amendments, 23.6% opposed them and 0.4% invalidated the ballot paper,

Beside the amendment offering the possibility of prolonging the presidential term of Vladimir Putin (until 2036 instead of 2024), there are a a few controversial amendments to the Russian fundamental law.

Source: Facebook| The Center for the Study of the Transnistrian Conflict Consequences

Russian federal territories

One of the most important articles of the Constitution of the Russian Federation that could be amended is article no. 67,  which provides for creation of federal territories in Russia and introduction of the expression “subjects of the Russian Federation”.

“By making this change, Putin wants to make sure that certain federal subjects do not leave the Russian Federation, such as Chechnya, Tatarstan or Crimea, the latter being illegally occupied by the Russian Federation. The territory of the Republic of Moldova doesn’t belong to  the Russian Federation. However, taking into consideration the priorities that President Dodon and socialist have, one could draw a parallel.

During the propagandist Moscow parade, Putin mentioned in his speech that all neighbours ‘are part of the Russian world’. Moldova, according to Vladimir Putin, is part of his strategic interest. The fact that 11% of the Moldova’s territory is hosting occupation troops proves it one more time,” said security policy expert Rosian Vasiloi.

Previously, President Igor Dodon claimed that federalisation is the only solution to solving conflicts in the Republic of Moldova, including the Transnistrian one.

Source: Facebook| The Center for the Study of the Transnistrian Conflict Consequences

Russia as the legal successor to the Soviet Union

In the same article, a paragraph was introduced, saying that the Russian Federation is the legal successor of the Soviet Union. Another amending paragraph states that the Russian Federation honours the memory of the “Fatherland’s defenders” and ensures the protection of historical truth. “The diminution of the importance of the act of heroism in the defence of the Fatherland is not allowed.”

Historian Andrei Cusco mentioned that the victory in World War II is a myth that represented the main pillar of the regime’s ideology after Putin came to power in 2000. “Russia has taken certain moments from the Soviet communist narrative and reinterpreted them to serve the interests and visions of the current regime,” Cusco said.

The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation prohibits the dissemination of information that expresses a clear disrespect regarding the days of military glory and memorable dates in Russia related to the defence of the Fatherland, as Meduza informed.

A good example is the reaction of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova to the TVR Moldova declaration that June 22, 1941 was the day when Romania entered the World War II to liberate the Russian-occupied lands in the summer of 1940. “For Romanians, this date went down in history as the day of starting the fight for the reunification of the nation. The President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, is not of the same opinion, as he stated that today is the day when the occupation of Bessarabia began,” it is said in the article.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation qualified the material as “uncivilised and extremely dangerous, because it justifies the war criminals.”

“Such tricks offend most Russian citizens who remember the common heroism of the Red Army that saved Europe from the Nazi plague.”

The perfect Russian child

One more completion to the constitution refers to children education, namely patriotism, citizenship and respect for the elderly.

The same approach existed during the USSR, when the principles of a very cultured man were considered love for the socialist homeland, friendship, companionship, humanity, honour, love for socialist work, etc.

 Marriage of a man and a woman

Another newly introduced amendment provides for the protection of the family, maternity, paternity and childhood, defending the institution of marriage as a union of a man and a woman, creating the conditions for a decent upbringing of children in a family, as well as for the fulfilment of the obligation to take care of parents.

Yet, another video promoting the amendment of the constitution promotes homophobia as well.

Crime against Russians

The Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner believes that the way of voting the amendments is not democratic. “There are many proposed amendments. Among them, there are those that I would be willing to support, but there are those that I am against of. Unfortunately, everything is organized in such a way, that either you order the entire dinner or none of the dishes,” he said.

Liubov Sobol, a Russian politician and lawyer at the Anticorruption Foundation, claimed that resetting Putin’s mandates to zero is a crime against Russians. “20 years were enough to implement all the reforms needed for our country. We saw that Putin failed. Corruption is flourishing in the country, we have a low level of education. There must be a change of power, and all eligible candidates must be allowed to run for president. People have to make a choice.”

This text is a translation. The original article here.

Photo: Facebook| The Center for the Study of the Transnistrian Conflict Consequences

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