Agriculture in Moldova

Agricultural Land in Dniester, Moldova
Corn field at Orheiul Vechi, Moldova
Sunflower fields in Balti, Moldova

Moldova is an agrarian-industrial state, with agricultural land occupying 2,499,000 hectares in a total area of 3,384,600 hectares.[1] It is estimated that 1,810,500 of these hectares are arable.[1] Moldova is located in Eastern Europe, and is landlocked, bordering Romania and Ukraine.[2] Moldova’s agricultural sector benefits from a geographical proximity to large markets, namely the European Union.[1] As a share of GDP, agriculture has declined from 56% in 1995 to 13.8% in 2013.[3] Data from 2015 estimated that agriculture accounted for 12% of Moldova’s GDP.[4] Agriculture as a sector is export-oriented, with the composition of Moldova’s total exports containing agriculture and the agri-food sector as a main component.[5] 70% of agri-food exports in 2012 included beverages, edible fruits and nuts, oilseeds, vegetable preparations and cereals.[6] Here, fruits, vegetables and nuts were attributed to 33% of Moldova’s exports for 2011-2013.[5] The declining share of agriculture in GDP does not extend to national value-added, where the agricultural sector in Moldova has the largest share relative to Central and Eastern European countries, withstanding a low productivity.[4] Moldova’s growth corresponds to a declining role of agriculture as a sector, and the rising importance of the services sector, aligning with trends for growth of developing economies.[6]

Present Agricultural Sector

73% of utilised agricultural area is arable land.[7] This percentage is among the highest in Eastern Europe.[6] Moldova’s land area can be separated into three differing agro-ecological zones, where terrain, soil type, climate and water availability vary between the Northern, Central and Southern agro-ecological zones.[6] Field crops are most suitable to the Northern agro-ecological zone.[6] The utilisation of land area for agricultural output varies, with horticultural production accounting for 22.3% of agricultural output in 2013.[8] 281,000 hectares of land is occupied by orchards and vineyards, whereas hayfields and pastures cover an estimated 352,300 hectares.[1] These figures can be considered as a percentage of utilised agricultural area (UAA), with permanent crops occupying 10% of UAA, and natural pastures and meadows 17%.[7] Agricultural area in Moldova is not fully utilised, as an estimated 18-20% of this land area is not cultivated as a result of non-use by landowners or scarce resources.[1] Agriculture in Moldova extends to include forestry, hunting and fishing.[6] To consider Moldovan agricultural output, it is characterised by natural potential, human resources and technological efficiency.[9]

Natural Potential

For natural potential, Moldova’s temperate climate favours agricultural production, with dry and mild winters, and warm summers with initial intense rainfall.[2] The warm period is on average 190 days annually.[6] In 2010, Moldova had an average air temperature for the year of 10.6 °C.[9] Precipitation as a factor of production lacks consistency per annum.[10] Summer is the wettest season, experiencing 39% of total annual rainfall.[10] In 2010, this rainfall figure was 734mm.[9] Between 1887-2010, precipitation annually increased by 66mm.[11] This increase was not consistent, as droughts also occurred during this period, such as in 2009.[6] The drought in 2012 caused a 60% decline in corn production, also impacting other crops including wheat and sunflower as a result of limited water availability as a factor of production.[12]

Soil composition exists as another factor of agricultural production, with Moldovan soil types featuring natural fertility, through being dominated by chernozems.[13] 80% of Moldovan land surface feature chernozems within the soil.[14] Agricultural land varies per hectare, where 27% of this land is considered good quality, and every second hectare is of average quality.[13] The soil composition varies across total agricultural land, depending on the agro-ecological zone of Moldova.[6]

Soil Degradation and Impact on Agricultural Practice

Soil degradation and its effect on the productivity of agricultural land has arisen as a result of decreased forest area, water management and unsustainable agricultural practices.[6] Higher levels of erosion and landslides have arisen due to declining percentages of forest area, which accounts for 11% of total land area.[15] The annual loss of humus (organic soil matter) is estimated to be 5-7 tonnes per hectare, with an annual cost to the economy predicted to be $239 million USD per year.[1] The inherent fertile soil composition is threatened and faces disturbance as a result of degradation, upsetting the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium balances of the soils.[1] 2 million hectares have been affected by degradation over the last 20–25 years.[13]

Human Resources

Agriculture as a source of employment fall from 50% to 28% for the population in 2015, alongside the decline in agricultural output as a share of total output in Moldova.[4] In 2000, half of total employment was provided by agriculture.[6] In terms of human resources for the agricultural sector, the rural population acts as a primary source for employment. For the poorest 40% of Moldova’s population, 75% of this population live in rural areas.[15] Agriculture here fills a socio-economic role, as an employer as last resort, and as a method of development for rural areas.[4]

Technological Efficiency

Agricultural output is affected by modern technologies, including machinery, fertilisers and irrigation.[9] A failure to adopt modern agricultural technologies such as drought-resistant crops and anti-hail protection have contributed to volatility in Moldova's agricultural output.[6] Higher input prices during the Global Financial Crisis contributed to the decline in agricultural production.[6] Agricultural inputs of fuel, fertiliser and plant-protective chemicals are imported, with Moldovan agricultural producers subject to risks of price volatility and a decreased international competitiveness.[3]

Irrigation also exists as a factor of production due to Moldova’s relatively arid climate.[1] In Moldova, 131,688 hectares are operated with 78 irrigation systems.[6]

Primary Agricultural Production

Agriculture in Moldova involves horticulture, viticulture and cereal production as primary methods of farming.[16] Primary agricultural production in Moldova consists of the crop and livestock sectors, accounting for 66.3% and 33.7% respectively of 2014 agricultural production.[13] Seven products are the main drivers of 90% of agricultural production, consisting of cereals, grapes, pigs, poultry, milk and fruits and vegetables.[6]


Moldova produced in 2018:

In addition to smaller productions of other agricultural products, like rapeseed (85 thousand tons). Moldova has a production of grape and apple between the 20th and 25th largest in the world, and a production of plum and sunflower seed between the 10th and 15th largest of the world. [17]

Crop Sector

Crop production favoured 60-70% of total agricultural production over the period 2001-2012.[6] There is a focus in this sector towards bulk raw materials for export, to both the Commonwealth of Independent States and EU.[6] Low value-added crops dominate the sector, with 80% of the cultivated land area occupying cereal, oilseeds, sugar beet and fodder crops.[13] Cereals in particular account for a high share of arable land, of 70% of total sown areas.[6] Moldova’s primary crops as a result of the importance of the cereal sector include wheat, barley, corn and rapeseed.[6] Specifically, wheat, corn and barley occupy more than half of sown land area in Moldova.[13] 894,000 hectares of Moldova's land area were cultivated for cereals and legumes in 2011, grain maize in 455,500 of these hectares, and wheat in 301,800 hectares.[6] In 2011, crop harvest produced 2,498,200 tons of cereals and leguminous crops for the period.[6] The focus on cereal production has arisen from low capital requirements, reliable market demand and ease of large-scale mechanisation for production.[6]

Agricultural enterprises are more specialised in grain crop production, as well as sunflower, grapes and sugar beet.[1] This differs from individual farms, where the focus is centralised towards grapes, potatoes, vegetables and fruits, maize and fodder.[1] High-value added products have a low level of production, due to investment requirements and irrigation availability.[6] These products such as fruits and vegetables also rely on imported seeds or seedlings, with initial requirements costly for production.[3] Fruit and vegetable crops account for less than 20% of UAA.[13]


Vineyards in Ialoveni district, Moldova

Moldova is listed as a top ten country for the manufacture and exportation of wine.[6] The sector is export-oriented, accounting for 11% of total Moldovan exports in 2011.[6] This percentage has fallen from 35% in 2005.[6] The usage of arable land extends to viticulture, as a component of Moldova’s export basket, with wine constituting 11% of Moldova’s exports in 2011.[6] As a share of industrial output, wine accounted for 7% of this figure between 2008-2010.[6] Between 2011 and 2013, wine as an export grew to almost 16% of Moldova’s export value.[1] 139.9 thousand hectares are estimated to be cultivated and utilised through vineyards.[6] As of 2014, licenses for production in viticulture were held by 191 wineries in Moldova.[6] Two of Moldova’s nine organic processing units are involved in the growth of organic grapes for the production of organic wine.[1]

Livestock Sector

In 2011, 61.2% of all agricultural holdings were involved in raising livestock.[7] Beside the decline of total agricultural production, livestock counts have also descended, where in the period 2001-2010, 16% of pigs and 40% of cattle in holding fell.[2] The livestock sector in Moldova carries a smaller role in agricultural production in comparison to the crop sector.[13] Lower output levels in the sector position Moldova as a net importer of the bulk of livestock products.[6] This role in output holds stability and is characterised by lower levels of competitiveness.[6] For the livestock sector, domestic resource constraints act as a barrier to production capacity.[6] Another effect limiting the livestock sector is climate change, with production influenced by higher temperatures and more frequent fluctuations in precipitation.[6]

Organic Agriculture

2.87% of Moldova’s arable land area was used for organic agricultural production.[1] An estimate of 94% of this land area is operated by land holdings sized 50 hectares or more.[7] Organic agriculture as a component of Moldova’s agricultural sector contributed to an estimated 3.18% of agricultural export value in 2013.[1] These registered exports amounted to $31.5EURO million, at an export level of more than 80,000 tonnes.[1] 59 organic producers were registered in Moldova as of 2013.[1] Organic agriculture has increased in growth from EU market demand, policies in support of the sector and a higher price premium for producers.[1]

History of Agriculture in Moldova

Hîncești district, Moldova in 1980

As of 1995, agricultural production delivered an estimated 40% of total production in Moldova, employing an estimated 1/3 of the total labour force.[18] Between 1987-1990, Moldova’s trade basket featured agricultural and food products as more than 50% of total exports.[18] The composition of the sector in 1989-1990 involved the crop sector accounting for 60% of agricultural output’s value, and the livestock sector contributing to 40%.[18] Agricultural land for this period was 2.3 million hectares, of which arable land was 1.5 million hectares.[18] Historically, agricultural output has accounted for a larger percentage of GDP, where between 1995-1997 it accounted for 27.39%, in comparison to 9.03% for 2007-2009.[9] In the period 1989-1993, total agricultural output was estimated to have declined by 33% for Moldova.[18] The decline in agriculture transpired within the livestock sector, with a fall in meat production by 40% between 1991-1993.[18] Moldova as a former member of the Soviet Union historically had access to a sizeable market, as in 1972, where Moldova's livestock exports accounted for 1% of cattle and 2% of pigs in the USSR.[18]

Climate Change Effect on Agriculture in Moldova

For the agricultural sector, the inextricable relationship between agriculture and climatic conditions, including temperature and precipitation, results in climate volatility as a risk.[6] The direct and indirect interdependence between agriculture and the rural population exposes climate change as a problem for the economy, due to socio-economic vulnerability.[2] Climate volatility has historically contributed to decreased yields and elevated risks for Moldova’s agriculture sector.[6] Natural hazards in 2007 affected Moldova’s GDP between 3.5-7%, with the majority of losses in the agricultural sector and rural areas.[2]

Records of Moldova’s average temperature provide evidence of an increase in 1 °C for annual average temperatures between 1887-2010.[11] Cumulative climate data supports the trend of increasing temperature and has been observed by farmers in greater extremity of heat events.[2]

Weather events have increased in severity, longevity and frequency, in particular for droughts and floods.[2] With extended droughts leading to a depleted water supply, irrigation demands have increased.[2] Due to Moldova existing as a relatively arid climate, irrigation exists as a factor of production for cropping in agriculture.[1] The divergence between irrigation availability opposed to demand for irrigation result in unmet demands, leading to conflict over water resources.[6] The effects of climate change on water resources in Moldova vary, and have been progressive over time. 26% of the decline in Moldova’s output in 1994 was attributable to natural disasters, primarily the severe drought.[18] The droughts in 1992 and 1994 were considered uncommon, but examination of precipitation patterns revealed the risks of drought had increased, as well as their potential for greater severity.[18] More variability in precipitation as a result of climate change has increased the risk of floods in addition to drought.[11] The floods in 2010 carried an impact of an estimated 0.15% decrease on Moldova’s GDP, with an estimated cost of US$42 million dollars.[11] The impact of these floods was felt largely in agricultural areas in Moldova.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Gerciu, Viorel; Rundgren, Gunnar (2017). "The Status and Potential of Organic Agriculture in the Republic of Moldova" (PDF). UN Environment Programme.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Boehlert, Brent B.; Iglesias, Ana; Neumann, James E.; Srivastava, Jitendra P.; Sutton, William R. (2013-01-01). "Reducing the vulnerability of Moldova's agricultural systems to climate change : impact assessment and adaptation options": 1–151. Cite journal requires |journal=
  3. ^ a b c Moroz, Victor; Ignat, Anatolie (2015). "External Factors' Impact over the Agricultural Sector of the Republic of Moldova". Scientific Papers Series Management, Economic Engineering in Agriculture and Rural Development. 15 (2): 217–226.
  4. ^ a b c d Sarbu, Olga; Cimpoies, Liliana (2018-03-31). "POVERTY REDUCTION IN RURAL AREAS THROUGH AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT: EVIDENCE FROM MOLDOVA". The Journal "Agriculture and Forestry". 64 (1). doi:10.17707/AgricultForest.64.1.10.
  5. ^ a b The World Bank (2015). "Republic of Moldova Trade Study" (PDF). The World Bank.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak Government of the Republic of Moldova (2014). "National Strategy on Agriculture and Rural Development for the Period 2014-2020" (PDF).
  7. ^ a b c d National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova (2011). "2011 General Agricultural Consensus in the Republic of Moldova" (PDF).
  8. ^ Golban, Arthur (2015). "Can Horticulture Become a Success Story in Increasing the Competitiveness of the Agricultural Enterprises from the Republic of Moldova?" (PDF). Lucrări Ştiinţifice. 58 (1): 209–214.
  9. ^ a b c d e Certan, Simion; Certan, Ion (2012). "Agriculture in the Republic in Moldova: Present and Future" (PDF). Scientific Papers Series “Management, Economic Engineering in Agriculture and Rural Development”. 12 (4): 65–73.
  10. ^ a b Potopová, V.; Boroneanţ, C.; Boincean, B.; Soukup, J. (2016). "Impact of agricultural drought on main crop yields in the Republic of Moldova". International Journal of Climatology. 36 (4): 2063–2082. doi:10.1002/joc.4481. ISSN 1097-0088.
  11. ^ a b c d e ŢĂRANU, Lillian (2014). An Assessment of Climate Change Impact on the Republic of Moldova's Agriculture Sector. Chinisau: Climate Change Office. ISBN 978-9975-53-362-1.
  12. ^ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016). "Financing Climate Action in Moldova" (PDF).
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Leah, Tamara (2015). "Agriculture and Soils of the Republic of Moldova: Assessment, Findings, Solutions" (PDF). Agrarian Economy and Rural Development - Realities and Perspectives for Romania. (6th Edition of the International Symposium ed.): 330–336.
  14. ^ Gribincea, Corina; Gribincea, Alexandru; Coretchi, Boris (2012). "The Influencing Factors on Volume Changes of Agriculture Production in Moldova". Economics, Management and Financial Markets. 7 (4): 497–504.
  15. ^ a b World Bank (2014). "Republic of Moldova: Forest Policy Note" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Moldova". www.fao.org. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
  17. ^ Moldova production in 2018, by FAO
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i World Bank (1995). "Moldova - Agriculture Sector Review". 1. Cite journal requires |journal=

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