Moldova's Lavender Flourishes After Post-Soviet Decline

Moldova's lavender flourishes after post-Soviet decline

Valea Trestieni, Moldova, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th Jul, 2021 ) :Young couples and families pose for glamour shots as the sun lowers over Alexei Cazac's sprawling field of lavender outside the capital of Moldova.

"Once, in the first year the lavender was blooming, we came and the entire field was just filled with people," the 40-year-old farmer tells AFP on a recent visit.

"It's like the set of a photo shoot. We didn't plan it this way," he says.

Cazac, who planted his first bushels in 2015, is among a growing cohort of farmers in Moldova fuelling a resurgence in the aromatic herb, whose cultivation collapsed along with the Soviet Union.

The comeback in the small country bordering Romania has garnered attention not just from locals hungry for likes on social media, but also from global cosmetic firms headquartered in western Europe.

"After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the industry was forgotten," says Alexandru Badarau, president of the Lavender Growers Association.

"It collapsed precisely because our connection was severed with Moscow, where most of the essential oils produced in Moldova were exported," he tells AFP.

"We're working hard to revive it." Around five or six newcomers to the industry are planting rows of the herb every year, he says, a trend which saw Moldova's lavender oil production double in 2021 to 20 tonnes compared to twenty years ago.

But that is still a far cry from 1989, when the country produced 180 tonnes.

Badarau's association says members export 99 percent of their oil to the European Union, specifically Germany, and to two other well-known producers: France and Bulgaria.

The oil is widely used in cosmetics and its aromas are hailed for their relaxing and soothing qualities that some believe counteract anxiety and insomnia.

Producers in Moldova say Bulgaria, which was also under the Iron Curtain, has benefitted greatly from the European Union after it became a member in 2007.

But where Bulgaria excels in quantity, Moldova trumps it in quality, they say.