Plains cover 36% of the countrys surface; hills and plateaux, 33%: and mountains, 31%. According to Koeppens classification, Romanias climate is mostly cold type, with temperate climate in the south of the country and dry climate in the southeast. Winters are generally cold and cloudy, and summers are warm with frequent showers.
Arable land and permanent crops cover 9.9 million ha, permanent pasture 4.9 million ha and forests 6.7 million ha. Main crops include maize, wheat, rye, barley, vegetables, sunflower, potatoes, sugar beet, soybeans and fruit.
Imports include various food products. Romania is a net exporter of cereals (second-largest exporter in the region for maize) since 1995, in spite of excessive fragmentation of farm structures and inefficiencies in the marketing system. Other exports include barley, cucumbers, beans, soybean and plums.
According to World Bank data, the labour force participation ratio of women to men was 0.8 in 1998.
National agricultural policy
Romania has applied for membership of the EU, and that has required the development and implementation of significant reforms since 1997 with a view to achieving harmonization of policies and regulations, starting with the phasing-out of sector monopolies, introduction of land reform and the liberalization of agricultural prices. Direct controls on input prices were eliminated and the distribution of fertilizers was phased out. Romania is a member of CEFTA and EPPO.
Amendments to the Land Law, to the Land Lease Law and the promulgation of a Land Circulation Law have established a legal framework for buying, selling and leasing land. At the beginning of 1998, 84% of arable land was cultivated by private farmers, including formal agricultural societies and informal family associations. As a result of privatization (meaning private ownership and/or management according to private criteria), farm structures became rather fragmented.
A General Directorate for Rural Development was created in order to coordinate public assistance in rural areas and to draw up and implement multi-sectoral development programmes. The collection and handling of produce from a large number of farmers is difficult and costly.
Availability of agricultural inputs
Farmers lack financial resources to purchase sufficient amounts of fertilizer and other production inputs; they have limited access to advice from extension services; and have to rely on an irrigation system whose technical condition is deteriorating.
Overall food supplies
Due to a decline in domestic food industry output, agro-food exports fell by 27% and imports increased by 32% in 1998. As a result Romania had a net deficit in agro-food trade of US$ 482 million that year.
The latest legislation on seed and seed varieties was promulgated in July 1997 (Law 75/95, n. 195) with the aim of conforming to EU requirements. It covers also vegetative propagating materials. There are also two other Laws: 95/95, dealing with staff of seed control inspection, and 65/97, providing technical requirements for the production, control and marketing of seed and vegetative propagating material. With a view to becoming member of UPOV, Romania had its Law on the Protection of New Plant Varieties examined by the Council of UPOV for conformity with UPOV Convention. Romania is a country admitted by OECD to register cultivars.
The breeding sector in Romania has not yet been privatized. Plant breeding activity is carried out by eight institutions throughout the country. They employ a total of 40 breeding specialists and deal with the main crop species. This activity includes also triticale, peas and soybeans.
Variety evaluation and registration
The State Institute for Variety Testing and Registration deals with all crops. Subject to successful testing (using DUS criteria), new varieties are registered in the National Register and appear in the National List issued each year.
The nomenclature used for the generations of improved varieties of seed starts with S.A. (Amelioratorului), then comes the pre-basic (P.B., Prebaza) which may be divided into P.B.I and P.B.II, the basic seed (B., Baza) which is used for seed multiplication and the production of certified seed (C., Certificata), comprising C1, C2. etc.
Commercial seed (Comerciala) is used for genetically stable local landraces produced in well defined areas, meeting all the characteristics of the species. Standard seed (ST) is the seed normally used for direct consumption.
The Research Institute for Cereals and Industrial Crops at Fundulea and its substations produce from S.A. seed to pre-basic seed for wheat, maize, rye, barley, sunflower, beans, hemp and soybean. The Potato Research and Production Institute at Brasov and its substations produce from S.A. to standard seed.
The crop area under improved varieties is maize, 42%; wheat and rye, 19%; sunflower, 9%; barley, 4%; potatoes and oats, 3% each; and sugar beet, 2%.
Seed certification and control
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has a unit for inspecting the quality of seed and of planting material. Romania is affiliated to ISTA. OECD criteria are followed for testing seed varieties included in the national lists of participating countries with reference to production, processing, packing and labelling, and applies to cereals, maize, fodder crops, oilseeds, beet and vegetables.
Field control is carried out by the Central Laboratory for seed quality control. That body also authorizes commercial enterprises to carry out their activities. Certification standards for seeds and planting material have been harmonized with those of the EU, thus facilitating imports. Romania is a member participating in the OECD Schemes for the Varietal Certification of Seed Moving in International trade for Herbage and Oil Seed, Cereals, Maize and Sorghum, Beet, and in the Scheme for Fruit and Vegetables.
Seed processing, storage and supply
For all crop species, seed processing is carried out in various state plants throughout the country. The main enterprises dealing with storage, marketing and supply of commercial seed (Comerciala) are SEROM and UNISEM. The latter deals mostly with legume seed.
In every agricultural research station, plant breeding experts organize field demonstrations describing the advantages and requirements of improved varieties, including hybrids. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has regional centres dealing with extension work. However, these units require re-organization and strengthening. In January 2000, the World Bank approved a loan of US$ 11 million for a project in Romania aiming at providing support to priority extension and applied research activity.
Plant genetic resources
Romania is a country with a rich biodiversity comprising a large number of natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Floral diversity includes over 3 700 species, including 228 endemic and sub-endemic species. Ex situ preservation collections are kept by institutes and breeding centres: the Suceava Plant Genetic Resources Bank (224 species and 710 200 accessions, 74% of the material is indigenous); the Research Institute for Cereals and Industrial Crops (32 species and 25 243 accessions); the Fruit Research Institute (29 species and 5 700 accessions); and other centres (104 species and 13 880 accessions).
Conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources have a long tradition in Romania. At present, PGR conservation activities are carried out by several governmental institutions. Four ministries (Food and Agriculture Ministry, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Water Ministry and the Ministry of Education) and the Romanian Academy of Sciences are involved in PGR conservation and utilization activities, including the Genebank of Suceava; seven research institutes; seven agricultural and biological universities; and seven botanical gardens.
Except in the case of Suceava Genebank, all collections are maintained as working collections (at room temperature) and are used for breeding, research or teaching. The collection maintained at the Genebank represents a specific part of the known genetic diversity for cereals, industrial crops, legumes, medicinal, aromatic and fodder plants. The samples are kept in hermetically closed glass jars.
Various institutions are involved in the conservation and utilization of PGR in Romania. There is a need to develop a national policy for the conservation and utilization of PGR, including the facilitation of a minimum standardization of databases of different breeding institutes and to form the metadata files.