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“Home at Chişcăreni” – a new touristic route arranged in Moldova with the local support

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The Chişcăreni commune in Sîngerei district can become a new tourist attraction in Moldova. Tourists will be now able to admire the views by climbing Casso’s Movila, enjoy the local eco-carriage rides, and experience therapy at the “Albinuţa” House.

Those who want to fish or relax will be able to do it in the forest and by its ponds. The route is complemented by the services provided by the four agro-tourist boarding houses, the agricultural activities to which tourists can get involved and the ecological pieces prepared by the village households.

“We have prepared a team of local guides made of high school students. They have already guided the first groups of tourists along the way, including in English,”says Viorica Ignatiuc, training guide at the Dialog Center.

The creation of the tourist route in Chişcăreni is one of the 14 local economic development projects carried out by the local authorities within the project “Migration and Local Development” implemented by UNDP Moldova with the financial support of the Government of Switzerland.

Economy

The Moldovan fruit farmers’ paradox – anybody can produce but only few chosen can sell

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The Republic of Moldova is an agrarian country. The most important agricultural activities in Moldova – the production of walnuts, grapes and some other fruits is, though, squeezed between the political interests and the weak regulations regarding export monopolies establishment and preference of imported products on the internal market. The small Moldovan farms remain outside the big business, being marginalized, misinformed and discriminated when it comes to selling their products inside or outside the Republic of Moldova.

The official data

During a press release of the National Office of Vine and Wine in Moldova, it was communicated that the 2017-2018 season recorded the earliest grapes harvest in the last 40 years. At the same time, the grapes production was 15% higher compared to the average of the last 8 years. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in the period January-June 2018, the grape exports from the Republic of Moldova increased by 32.1% compared to the same period of 2017. Moldova exported grapes to Romania – 51.9% of the total export, the Russian Federation – 35% and Belarus – 3.7%.

The National Agency for Food Safety (NAFS) announced a raise in 2018 of  the production and export of Moldovan fruits such as apples, plums, peaches, apricots and cherries.  According to the provided data, 70.6 thousand tons of apples from 2018 year’s harvest were exported, that being three times more than in the same period of 2017. A significant increase was also recorded in the export of plums – 31 thousand tons of plums have reached the foreign markets. The NAFS talked about the export of fruits to the usual for Moldova international markets, such as the Russian market, and discovering new markets such as Iraq and Bangladesh.

The European Business Association reported a quantity of 10 thousand tons of walnuts, exported by 30 companies entitled to do the exports to France Germany or Austria. There are 29,000 hectares of walnut trees in the Republic of Moldova. In 2017, the walnuts production was 18.7 thousand tons. The main countries where the Moldovan walnuts are exported are the EU countries, Ukraine, Turkey and Russia.

Behind the curtain

Several journalistic investigations performed by few independent media institutions from Moldova, such as Ziarul de Gardă and Jurnal TV, have uncovered the ties between certain family members of the former Prime Minister of Moldova – Pavel Filip, and several companies that have an important role on the walnuts and dried fruits markets. The investigations were launched after the allegations of existing a personal interest of the former Prime Minister in maintaining a monopolistic situation on the walnuts market. While checking  the reason of a dramatic decrease of walnuts selling price on the market, the journalists have found a scheme of collecting and centralizing of walnut production by few collector firms that transported them afterwards to “Monicol” SRL – a company owned by father of the Filip’s daughter-in-law. The company has a market share of about 20% and the government’s protection in their activity. The allegations were denied by Pavel Filip, but no financial information regarding the company’s activity was made public.

Svetlana Lungu, the Head of Plant Protection and Health Directorate of NAFS, explained that the process of obtaining the necessary papers for exporting walnuts is not so hard. “In the EU, the requirements are minimal. Namely, it is necessary to obtain the phytosanitary certificate for the export of products of plant origin. The registration of the exporter and the producer is required by NAFS, as well as owning or renting a storage space by the exporter and signing a contract with the producer,” declared Lungu. Therefore, as long as the process is standardized, why the Moldovan walnuts are officially exported by only 30 companies and a monopoly is established on the market unofficially? Maybe because there are some political and personal interests of ‘filtering’ the companies authorized to export.

Walnuts exporting is a profitable business in Moldova. According to TV8, one kilogram of Moldovan walnuts costs 23.94 euro on the Belgian store shelves (about 462 lei). In Moldova, one kilogram of walnuts could reach 150/200 lei on the market, but from producers it is bought for 60/80 lei per kilogram.

The situation for the grapes and fruits producers is not much better. Few weeks ago, a campaign was initiated by a grapes’ producer, Diana Crudu, that advised people not to buy flowers for the International Women’s Day, but a box of grapes or apples.

“There are over 7 thousand tons of grapes in the  Moldovan warehouses. If they are not sold in the next two or three weeks, these grapes will have to be thrown away. The wine factories do not have the capacity to process and storage such a large quantity of grapes. This is the most dramatic situation faced by table grape manufacturers in the last 15 years,” said Diana in an interview for RFE/RL.

The producers are forced to sell the grapes on the local market for 3 to 6 lei per kilogram. At the same time, consumers are offered the possibility to buy imported grapes for 80 lei per kilogram in the Moldovan supermarkets.

The Ministry of Agriculture representative, Iurie Mudrea, declared that no compensation for unsold products can be provided. “The business always involves risk. Calculate, my dear, solve the problem, think about it at the beginning of year, put some efforts. Even Russia no longer accepts low quality, we need high quality for all products. Here we have to start: big volumes, high level of quality and a lot of effort,” declared Mudrea for TV8.

The Ministry of Agriculture claimed that apples could be purchased directly from producers and distributed free of charge in schools. At the same time, the “qualitative and nicely packed” apples could be sold in the country’s retail shops, and the fruit quality monitoring infrastructure could be developed. A lot of things could be done. But will they?

The real solution came from Moldovan people. An event organized by the Klumea Association encouraged Moldovan people to become  solidary with the grapes’ producers and come on Sunday, February 24th, at a bazaar in the city centre of Chisinau to buy a box of domestic grapes, with only 5 lei per kilogram.  The initiative has a suggestive name: ‘Take Moldova home’.

Source: Facebook

Featured photo: worldpulse.com

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Politics

Moldova and Vladimir Plahotniuc featured in the Al Jazeera’s investigation “Moldova and the Puppet Master”

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The journalists from the Al Jazeera news portal published recently an investigation and produced a film about the oligarchic regime established at Chișinău and its key figure – the Democrats leader Vladimir Plahotniuc. In order to realize the material, the Al Jazeera journalists and filmmakers Glenn Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna have visited the Republic of Moldova in February 2019.

This is how the article on the Al Jazeera portal starts:

“His critics say he’s a secretive oligarch who pulls all the strings in a country caught between Europe and Russia, while his supporters say he’s a just a successful businessman-turned-politician with his country’s best interests at heart.

Who is the man whom many call Moldova’s ‘Puppet Master’? And what lies behind allegations of blackmail, hitmen, and a billion-dollar bank fraud?”

The article presents the filmmaker and author’s view, Glenn Ellis: “What is undeniable is that Plahotniuc exercises a remarkable degree of influence over Moldovan political life. […] He also oversaw legislation that made it practically impossible to recover money stolen in a 2014 billion-dollar bank fraud that crippled Moldova’s state finances. […] I wondered to what extent the perceived invincibility of the Plahotniuc brand would feature in the upcoming vote. Was he indeed the all-powerful Machiavellian character often portrayed?”

Also, the declarations of Igor Dodon, the President of Moldova, Lilia Carasciuc, the director of the NGO Transparency International in Chișinău, Alexei Tulbure, Moldova’s former permanent representative to the UN, Andrei Năstase and Maia Sandu, the leaders of the political bloc ACUM, Natalia Morari, a popular independent journalist, along with the declarations of other members of political parties, experts, and journalists were used in the film for reporting the situation in Moldova.

Photo: aljazeera.com

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Reintegration

An incident happened at the Ribnita Metallurgical Plant. But how dangerous is the level of radioactivity in the atmosphere?

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An accident at the Ribnita Metallurgical Plant triggered a wave of public concerns after the social networking information revealed more information that radiation has been emitted from the burning of metals.

According to information circulated on social networks, after the accident, the furnace at the metallurgical plant stopped, after the devices indicating the radioactive background “practically started to scream”. Moreover, in a post on VKontakte, it appeared that immediately after the incident on the scene people would come with masks and protective suits. Employees “have been forced not to disclose information” about the incident.

An accident at the Ribnita Metallurgical Plant triggered a wave of public concerns after the social networking information revealed more information that radiation would have been emitted from the burning of metals.

Former Tiraspol leader Evghenii Shevchuk told TV8 that it was the burning of metals that have emitted radiation.

At the same time, Vasile Benea, Head of State Control and Surveillance at the National Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Activity, told Newsmaker that “neither 4, 5, 6, and 7 March in Moldova did not have an increased level of radiation”.

Benea mentioned that the level of radiation is measured in five places throughout Moldova.

“As for the incident at the metallurgical plant, we can not comment on this because we do not have access there,” the official said.

At the same time, according to him, radiation monitoring systems are installed at the plant. “Every car that goes to the scrap plant goes through the control,” explained Vasile Benya.

The Reintegration Policy Bureau came up with a reference to the incident at the Ribnita Metallurgical Plant, where the furnace ceased.

Thus, the institution confirmed that an incident occurred at the plant, without giving details. According to the office, the intervention services of the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations were not requested.

In the communication with Tiraspol, “an internal investigation is being carried out on the spot to clarify the causes of the situation,” the message of the Reintegration Policy Bureau says.

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