More Trials for a Country Deserving Better
I saw it as soon as my flight started descending over Chisinau. The yellow and brown fields that covered the landscape. I had been warned through the correspondence between my office and Washington that I had read when occasionally glancing through my e-mails during my vacation. The information there had indicated that Moldova was experience the worst drought since 1946. Actually, the signs were here already when I left in mid July. We had hardly had any rain or snow since I arrived here in October, and the first real rainfalls that finally came in April/May passed quickly and generally did not last for more than an hour. During the weeks that I was away, temperatures rose to around 40 °C.
Now when much has been harvested, the effects are evident. Many farmers did not even get half the yield they normally produce. Not only does this affect income as well as food supply for households relying on subsistence farming this year, but seeds reserves are also exhausted, which threatens next years’ production. The situation is a little better in the northern part of the country than in the central and southern regions, but for Moldova as a whole, where 60 % of the population is still heavily depending on agriculture, this is disastrous.
Thursday, my office visited a few villages in the south, and I saw the impact of the drought at close. It was awful! The plants looked weird, almost unnatural. The sunflowers and maize plants are only half the size they are supposed to be, not even reaching my waste. It is like stepping into Lilliput Land. Many of the plants are completely dry – dead – and the ones that have survived are not bearing any fruit. The maize plants are without ears/corn and the sunflowers almost without seeds. In some places, the plants seem to have been scattered out randomly instead of growing in straight, dense rows across the fields. Those were the plants that came up.
Livestock is also affected. Animals have either died from starvation or are being slaughtered with the meat sold at low prices. With increasing fodder prices, dairy producers can no longer afford to keep their animals. The little money that the small-scale farmers had managed to invest in a few animals or a small plantation is disappearing right in front of their eyes. And with it the hope that the next years will be a little bit better for them and their families. Life has been hard for a long time here in Moldova and it is now slowly changing for the better only because of the hard work of people here. It is therefore extra sad to see this happening to the country. The Moldovans are strong and I know they will come out of this. They have done so before, and not thanks to anyone else but themselves. I just hope that this time not more people will have to leave the country in order to survive. I also hope that we will be able to assist them (as the Government has asked us for) in doing something about this situation, and easing their burden somewhat.
It is Sunday and I am now on my way to my office for the second time this weekend. The drought will be my main focus for the next months, and there is a lot to do.