AGROVOC country report - Republic of Moldova

FAO/Buletin Dorin Goian

Food and agricultural production and economy

The Republic of Moldova is located in the southeastern part of Europe between Romania and Ukraine. It is a country with a temperate continental climate, warm summers and mild winters, and is famous for its fertile soils, which represent the main natural resource and heritage of the country.The Republic of Moldova is predominantly an agricultural country. The agricultural sector is a national development priority, having a vital role in poverty reduction, food security and sustainable development of the country. Throughout its history, agriculture in the Republic of Moldova has been the main source of population subsistence. For centuries, the role of agriculture was for food supply.

Today, its primary production role has expanded to be multifunctional and interdependent. Modern agriculture is developing in relation to the environment, and it also has an important ecological and social role. The agricultural sector is always at the top of the agenda of the Republic of Moldova’s government, which elaborates, creates and implements policies, programmes and strategies for the development of this strategically important sector for the sustainable development of the country.

The objectives of these actions are meant to increase the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, with a focus on the following key directions:

  • extensive restructuring and modernization;
  • improving the quality of life and working conditions in rural areas;
  • creating synergy between agri-food activities and the natural environment;
  • modernizing the agri-food chain to comply with European Union (EU) food safety and quality requirements;
  • facilitating farmers’ access to capital, inputs and outputs markets; practicing animal husbandry in organic farming systems;
  • and supporting environmentally friendly production technologies, ecological products, biodiversity, etc.

In 2020, vegetable production had a 64 percent share of total agricultural production, while animal production had a 36 percent share (BNS, 2021a).

Food and agriculture research

The main research guidelines in the field of agriculture and related fields are in line with the priorities and strategic directions provided by the National Programme in the fields of research and innovation for 2020-2023 (Government of the Republic of Moldova, 2019).

Sustainable agriculture, food security and food safety:

  • food security and food safety;
  • high-performance varieties and hybrids of agricultural, technical and fodder crops;
  • sustainable management of agricultural ecosystems;
  • new technologies for processing agricultural raw material; and
  • agri-food biotechnologies.

Environment and climate change:

  • the impact of biotic and abiotic factors on the environment and society;
  • safe, clean and efficient energy;
  • waste, plastics and pollutants;
  • ecological security; and
  • biodiversity conservation.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Research is responsible for setting the policy framework for research and innovation. The research and development infrastructure, which contributes to the development of scientific activity and innovation in agriculture, includes several institutions and centers of agricultural research: Life Sciences Department of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova;  SAUM; six specialized scientific research institutions; experimental agricultural stations; centres of excellence; science, technical-scientific and technological innovation parks; business incubators, and research centres and their scientific laboratories (BNS, 2021b).

Scientific research represents a major focus in the activity of SAUM. The activity of the university includes both the development of fundamental and applied research projects, as well as activities of experimental development and technological transfer in the socio-economic environment of innovative products, services and technologies. The university research process is organized around seven accredited research areas: Agronomy, Horticulture, Economics, Veterinary Medicine, Agricultural Engineering and Auto Transportation, Cadastre and Law. 

SAUM aims to become more involved in the production of important scientific results to address interdisciplinary topics, to integrate research results in exchange for national and international values, to increase its visibility and image, and to contribute substantially to the improvement of the country's agricultural sector. SAUM’s research topics are directly connected to the established national objectives and focus on soil health and conservation practices, food security, the use of renewable energy resources, the adaptation of sustainable and environmentally friendly technologies for fruit, and vegetable production in the context of climate change. In recent years, special emphasis has been placed on technological studies concerning the valorization possibilities of biomass obtained from the cultivation of plants. This was done in accordance with the EU policies for energy purposes, which have shown that biomass derived from energy crops can be used as the main component in the formation of raw material mixtures for the production of biofuels.

The role of libraries

The scientific research within SAUM is carried out in collaboration with various associations of agricultural producers. The research partnership with agricultural enterprises creates and offers tools to change and improve agricultural practices. This also identifies areas of intervention in university curricula in order to match skills to the needs of the agricultural production sector. Agricultural research institutions represent another important segment of the national agricultural research. It is constantly evolving, being deeply involved both in agricultural research activities and in the production, multiplication, storage and marketing of seeds and seedlings by subcontracting with private farms.

As a result of performed research, new plant varieties and hybrids were developed, as well as phytosanitary clones of grape varieties, new cultivation technologies, rootstocks and mother plantations of fruit trees for grafting. The research results serve to strengthen scientific and technological skills in the field of national agricultural interest, help Moldovan farmers to implement and develop production strategies, to cultivate high productivity crops, and provide consumers with better quality products.

Adding value to scientific results was achieved through recommendations, methodologies, technological links and new methods, implementations in production, editing monographs and books, publishing papers in journals with a high impact factor and international collections, and registering patents. There is a need for better harmonization of agricultural research, innovation and education. Global milestones require the active development of long-term partnerships; collaboration between organizations in the field of agricultural research with economic entities in the field of agribusiness; and involvement in international research programmes. Intensive and lasting partnership with the private agricultural sector can contribute, through innovation, to the transformation of new knowledge into economic effects and to the expansion of traditional scientific infrastructures (technology transfer centre, science park) into innovation hubs in agriculture.

These structures will connect the ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship in order to stimulate research-development-innovation activities.

Adapting researchers to the requirements of the digital age in order to conduct high-quality research, as well as managing scientific data as a result of the research process, is an ongoing need. The knowledge, information and data system underlying agriculture represent a crucial factor in agricultural growth and productivity. The agricultural potential cannot be fully achieved without problem-based research, practical applications and real efforts to effectively disseminate research results to a wider audience. As scientific knowledge becomes more specialized and the issues addressed by scientists become more complex, the need for greater and more efficient communication and collaboration for the exchange of information increases.

In order to conduct research applicable in the agricultural sector and make better strategic decisions, researchers need a solid and open access database including up-to-date, quality and relevant agricultural information. Libraries and information centres of the Republic of Moldova play an important role in providing information and scientific data by digitizing documentary resources, managing specialized digital repositories, and ensuring equity and availability of resources. They also provide services and offer programmes to support the implementation of SDGs at the local level in the agricultural and environmental areas. The situation caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has led the libraries to focus more on the online environment. This included ensuring remote access of users to library resources and efficient communication with each other in order to exchange information and provide researchers with information throughout the country.

Libraries can provide leadership in priority areas such as open science, open access and publishing, and research data management. In order to support open access to research data and stimulate innovation capacity, institutional policies need to be established for research data management. It is also necessary to develop mechanisms, infrastructures and software solutions which would enable long-term digital preservation of research data. In this regard, the collaboration between various actors (decision makers at the governmental level in the field of science and innovation, researchers, universities, scientific institutions, publishers, libraries, etc.) is of great importance in the process of implementing research data management.

Due to insufficient funding, it is difficult to chart an accelerated development trajectory of the research field and align it with the European target objectives of research and innovation. In order to achieve the improvement of funding options, it may be beneficial to focus on full involvement in European programmes and projects and also in transnational research initiatives by stimulating private investment in the research and development sector. It is crucial to ensure an open regime that would allow easy and fast import of the latest technologies, so that Moldovan farmers can achieve, enhance and maintain their competitiveness.

Link to part three