Ambassador Pettit: Opening Remarks at USAID High Value Agriculture Activity in Moldova, February 22, 2017

Opening Remarks
Ambassador James Pettit
USAID High Value Agriculture Activity in Moldova (HVAA project)
Launching Event
Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 1000 AM
Radisson Blu Convention Center


Prime Minister Filip

Minister Grama

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen! 

It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you all today to the launch of a new project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to help Moldova’s agriculture sector to become an engine of economic growth and development. 

With nearly a fifth of GDP and more than a quarter of formal employment coming from the agricultural sector, it is clear that agriculture and food processing are very important for the Moldovan economy.

Agricultural value chains account for 64% of Moldovan exports, and horticultural products such as apples, table grapes, plums – both fresh and processed – account for 1/3 of agricultural exports.  Regretfully, various product bans imposed by the Russian Federation since 2005 had a devastating impact on Moldovan agriculture. The U.S. Government, the European Union and other development partners stepped in to help Moldovans overcome the losses and explore other markets in Western Europe, Northern Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Together we’ve managed to achieve some significant success: for example, exports of fresh table grapes to the European Union have increased from 2 to 10 thousand tons and the 10,000 EU duty-free export quota for Moldovan table grapes was fully utilized.  The EU now absorbs 65% of Moldovan world exports and the value of EU agricultural imports from Moldova grew by 9% in 2015. Moldovan apples are currently exported to 20 countries, up from just a small handful before the most recent 2014 Russian ban.

To expand on these early successes and establish a sustainable position in these reliable and profitable markets, Moldovan high-value agriculture chains need to improve product quality, adopt upgraded varieties, ensure reliability of supply and guarantee food safety.  These areas along will be the focus of the new USAID project we are launching today. In addition the project will assess the feasibility of other potential high value agricultural exports such as berries and honey.

During my field trips I have met many Moldovan farmers. They are eager to cultivate new high value crops and to position their products in lucrative western markets. I am confident that this new USAID project will inspire and help this segment of the rural population to move Moldova forward. 

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the U.S.-Moldovan relationship this year, our 25 years together, today’s event is one of many visible reminders of the very real and positive impact our cooperation can, and does have, on the everyday life of people and communities across the country. Moving forward we support Moldova’s ambitious reform agenda and believe in its success, powered by the energy and great spirit of the Moldovan citizens.

Thank you!