In September 2014 we marked two years since the launching of the project RURAL ECONOMIC EDUCATION and DEVELOPMENT (REED), implemented by CEED Romania and funded by the Romanian American Foundation. Two years of intense activity, the practical lessons and progress, both for experts involved in the project at the local level, as well as, especially, for farmers who have benefited from our services free of charge.
During September 2012 – august 2014, apart from the training sessions and business advisory services of which benefited more than 1,000 farmers in the 37 communities included so far in the program, the project has organized six EEDR exchanges of experience between farmers from different communities and agricultural areas of the country. These events enjoyed great interest and active participation of 280 people.
EEDR Exchanges of experience are networking events aimed to broaden the horizon of farmers by giving them an opportunity to receive new ideas, examples and models of success in their field of activity, to discuss with other farmers about the common difficulties and practical solutions that have been proven effective, inspire them to apply in their own farm such solutions and changes to increase efficiency and profitability.
The latest exchange was organized in the vegetable-growing area Someșul Mic, in the communities Apahida and Jucu, from Cluj County. The event, which took place on 29-30 July 2014, was attended by 44 people – farmers in the vast majority vegetable growers from all corners of the country, plus local and senior experts of the EEDR programme.
This visit aimed primarily to promote the concept and best practices concerning the association of farmers, a priority of the program Rural Development through Entrepreneurship and Association, initiated and funded by the Romanian-American Foundation (RAF), to which EEDR belongs. Concrete and compelling arguments in support of this approach, also promoted in the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU, have been this time the experience and achievements of the farmers in the host area who joined resources in the Agricultural Cooperative Lunca Someșului Mic.
The visit included a presentation of the activity of the cooperative Lunca Someșului Mic, made by our host, the President of the cooperative, Mr. Bob Simion Sorin, and an overview of the project “Support for the Agricultural Cooperative Lunca Someșului Mic“, which is implemented by Civitas Foundation for Civil Society – Cluj branch, in partnership with the Romanian-American Foundation. The project was presented by Mrs. Carmen Ciobanu, country coordinator of social economy programmes of Civitas.
Guests had the opportunity to visit a few farms in the area, the Agro Centre Transylvania located in Dezmir, near the municipality of Cluj-Napoca, and the distribution/collection center of the cooperative, where at 6 a.m. they witnessed the bi-weekly delivery of vegetables provide by the members of the cooperative to the supermarket Kauffland.
Farmers have been able to see with their own eyes what are the advantages and benefits enjoyed by the farmers who joined the cooperative which, in a relatively short period of time, was able to achieve the sale of products to large customers such as hypermarkets. They found precious information about how to ensure an efficient management of the association.
In addition, guests appreciated the fact that, in a relatively short period, the members of the cooperative from Someș area managed, with external support, to reinvest their profits in cold storage facilities to ensure transportation of vegetables of the highest quality to the points of sale and end clients. A key role for the implementation of this investment had local authorities, which have supported the development of vegetable growing in the area by obtaining grants in order to ensure premises and technical assistance to support the activities of collecting, delivery, sales promotion, and transport to the market.
Both the guests and the hosts had a chance to get new information on funding opportunities available to farmers. The CEED Senior consultant, Mr. Marius Vereş Dănciuţ made a review of the progress in the project to date, and Ms. Carmen Tarnovschi presented the EU calls for proposals for agriculture and rural development: Measure 4 Investment in fixed assets, Submeasure 4.2 Support for investments in the processing /Marketing of agricultural products, Measure 6_Development of holdings and enterprises, Submeasure 6.1 Support for installing the young farmers and Submeasure 6.3 Support for development of small farms.
The presentations were followed by discussion among the farmers, during which they appreciated once again the benefits resulting from the association into a cooperative or a producer group, effective ways for sale of production obtained that these approaches can provide to members. They also debated the difficulties faced in establishment of a cooperative and the ways to overcome them.
The project Rural Economic Education and Development (EEDR) aims to develop entrepreneurial skills and management of farmers in Romania, which lead to the creation of jobs and the development of human capital and business in rural areas. The project provides training services and consulting, as well as opportunities for communication and exchange of experience for the 1,500 active farmers in 40 communities in Romania. As a result of these services, we expect local producers to increase sales, reduce production costs and increase the quality of the products, which will contribute to increasing the sustainability of their farms, improving access to market and creating new jobs. All this will have a beneficial impact on the local communities.