Magazine article Geographical

Ploughing a Lonely Furrow

Magazine article Geographical

Ploughing a Lonely Furrow

Article excerpt

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Farming practices in rural Romania have remained largely untouched by industrialisation, with many country dwellers still eking out a living on small plots of land. But change is slowly coming to the country's hinterland, and the new generation of young Romanians no longer want to live in such a harsh environment, where there are few opportunities to find work or

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PREVIOUS SPREAD: a Hungarian-Romanian farmer ploughs his land on a foggy autumn day in Cluj County in Romania's central northwest. Tractors and other agricultural machinery are still a rare sight in rural Romania, where much of the labour continues to be done manually using human and animal power. Almost 30 per cent of the country's population is engaged in agriculture, but because many of the farmers are little more than self-sufficient, the sector only contributes about 13 per cent to the nation's GDR Reflecting the two countries' shared history and border, Hungarian-Romanians are the largest minority in Romania, making up around 6.5 per cent of the population; ABOVE, LEFT: a Romanian woman stands with her squash crop in Satu Mare County in the northwest of Romania. Despite being a well-developed agricultural nation, Romania isn't known for its exports, a fact that many locals find deeply frustrating, blaming it on shortsighted government policies. Since emerging from Communist rule in 1989, Romania has also struggled to adapt its unsuitable manufacturing industry, but exports have increased since the millennium, and in 2007, the country joined the EU. The woman pictured here is over 70 and lives near her fields with her husband. She is her village's traditional singer and quite well known in the region, partly because few people can still recall the region's traditional songs. As is frequently the case in rural Romania, her children moved to the city once they were adults. Today, many of the younger generation move to urban areas or other European countries in order to secure better work and wages; ABOVE, MIDDLE: a Romanian man leads his bullocks along a track near the village of Holbav in Transylvania. Many roads in remote Romanian areas remain unpaved. Due to their strength and ability to navigate virtually any terrain, a bullock and cart are an indispensable part of many rural households. This man has been collecting firewood. The bullocks are used to pull the trees he has felled back to the village. They are able to traverse steep slopes that would defeat a motorised vehicle. The only mechanised part of the process is the felling of the trees, which is achieved using an old Soviet-made, diesel-powered chainsaw; ABOVE, RIGHT: a farmer poses with a shovel after consuming a number of tsuikas at a family gathering. Tsuika is Romania's national alcoholic beverage and is brewed in virtually every household in the countryside. Made from plums fermented for up to two months in late autumn, it's distilled before being aged in oak barrels for between six and ten years. The resulting brew has an alcohol content of up to 60 per cent, and is served as a shot because it's too strong to be sipped. Considered an essential part of any celebration, tsuika is drunk before meals to increase the appetite and used to raise toasts. Many families also continue to serve tsuika before everyday meals. Plums are the most common fruit in Romanian orchards, with a recent survey finding that more than 550 square kilometres of land is dedicated to growing the fruit. …

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