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Romania’s farmland land, a profitable investment

On January the 1st, 2014 Romania officially granted foreign citizens the right to directly purchase farmland.  Prior to this date, foreign citizens were allowed to buy farmland in Romania only after setting up a Romanian firm. Experts have warned that the purchase of farmland, by foreign citizens, will increase significantly and that the state should thoroughly control this type of transactions. In 14 years alone, 3 million hectares of farmland have been purchased in Romania, which means that a third of Romania’s fertile land is now owned by Italian, Danish, German, Norwegian, Dutch, Hungarian and Lebanese citizens.
Officially, companies running on foreign capital have already bought 1 million hectares of farmland, and have signed lease contracts for another 2 million hectares.According to Laurentiu Baciu, head of League of Romanian Farmers' Associations, foreigners cultivate land in Romania, taking advantage of the fertile land, the small price per hectare and the cheap labour force but sell the crops in the countries they come from. There, the wheat Romanian is processed in specialties or used for animal feed, then exported to Romania and sold to Romanian consumers for a prices bigger than the domestic ones.

Most foreign investors bought fertile farmland in the Calarasi, Ialomita and Banat regions. Italian investors have particularly invested a lot, purchasing some 250,000 hectares of land, most of which in Western Romania. High on demand are plots of land that are pooled together and highly productive. The hesitation of landowners and farmers in selling their small plots of land, inherited from their parents, makes farmland price report a constant upward trend. For instance, in Intorsura village in Dolj county, prices for arable plots of land have increased from 600 euros some years back to 1,500 euros in poor regions, or 2,000 or even 3,000 euros for  productive and abundant farmland.
Farmland in Moldova and northern Transylvania is cheap, but too scattered for an investor to be able to buy large tracts. Maybi for this reason, there are few agricultural operations near Salaj, while the biggest farmers there are foreign business people who bought large areas of land in the 1990s.

Starting April, farmland is to be sold under new regulations. Romanians must observe a new set of procedures in order to be allowed to sell their land. First they must notify the local town hall with respect to their intention to sell, while the sale cannot be completed any sooner than 30 days. The seller must specify a price, while the town hall will make the price public, informing co-owners, the family, landholders, neighbors and the entire village. They have priority rights to buy the land. Romania has some 14 million hectares of farmland at present, of which 10 million hectares in use.

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