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Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania
Conservarea biodiversităţii şi dezvoltare comunitară în Transilvania

Information and local economy

Local information networks promoting coordinated use of Rural Development Programme measures by small-scale farmers

Romania’s small-scale farmers need information and technical assistance to achieve an integrated use of all the Rural Development Programme measures available to them. ADEPT has identified various urgent needs: improved access to information, including though internet skills for key individuals (such as farmer associations): coordinated delivery of information on eligibility for funding schemes; improved capacity to implement projects after approval.

Fundatia ADEPT has been working to solve these problems by forming information groups for farmers, packaging information in usable forms, and training in implementation. The impact of this integrated information project has been remarkable. Fundatia ADEPT has yielded increased local incomes of over €2m per year in the Tarnava Mare area, having a great impact on local prosperity. In addition, Fundatia ADEPT is cooperating closely with the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, advising on the current and future Rural Development Programme based on practical experiences: and has even had an influence on the design of the Cooperation Measure in the legislative proposals for the EAFRD post 2013, with a view to promoting replication of the action across the EU.

Fundatia ADEPT has worked to create effective and attractive information networks, including via improved-capacity farmer associations. Information packaged appropriately and delivered to farmers and through associations include:
  • guides for building milk collection and food processing plants offering minimum conditions for authorisation, with plans freely available in hard copy or internet for use by any community group in Romania
  • training of farmer associations in general management
  • improved milk hygiene and milk price negotiation with processors
  • farm visits and meetings to help farmers gain access to measures
  • materials to help farmers meet implementation conditions, such as Farmers Diary and Farm Record Sheets
  • information networks for farmers markets; training small farmer associations to deliver joint actions
  • use of mobile telephone SMS to inform producers of key information.
There are over 3 million subsistence and semi-subsistence farmers in Romania. They have very low capacity to gain access to Rural Development Programme measures. The project initially targeted the 5,000 farming families in the Tarnava Mare area. The project is now expanding its communication activities to national level.

Fundatia ADEPT used innovative tools: suitably packaged information in order to present complex mixtures of options in a way for farmers to understand; internet training and village internet offices; generic solutions to specific problems on the ground (such as generic plans for micro-processing plants); practical information booklets, calendars and forms for general use; mobile phone SMS. Fundatia ADEPT improved the capapcity of farmer associations so that they could act as channels of information, thus raising farmers’ capacity for joint actions and price negotiation.

The impact of the project has been remarkable:
  • a 7-fold increase in uptake of agri-environment schemes - Euro1.7 m extra income/year in for about 2,000 farmers
  • improved milk quality and capacity to negotiate with milk processors doubling milk price - over €150.000/year extra income for over 200 farmers
  • better presented, managed and advertised farmers markets - over €110,000 extra income in 2011 for 40 producers
  • a village association has created a group agri-environment scheme and is using funds received for community projects - €220.000 / year for 39 association members
  • villages in two other areas have replicated the ‘s minimum-conditions ’s food processing unit based on the project design.
Thus, with an investment of €700,000, the project has yielded increased local incomes of over €2m per year in the Tarnava Mare area, having a great impact on local prosperity as this is local money, circulating in the local economy.

This project has increased the uptake, and effective integrated use, of Rural Development programme. Fundatia ADEPT is cooperating closely with the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and has been consulted at EU level on the design of the Rural Development Programme post-2013.

At grass-roots level, this project has increased the uptake, and effective integrated use, of Rural Development Programme measures. It has demonstrated that the RDP offers the necessary tools to farmers and rural communities, and that the key problem is the effective communication of these tools at national level – and that innovative and integrated communication actions are extremely cost-effective in terms of cost of the actions against their economic impact on farmers and rural communities. The project has used innovative communication to integrate horizontally (information delivery to farmers) and vertically (linking local implementation to national and EU policy-making). The project has also demonstrated that farmers will actively work together in associations and cooperative actions when there is business advantage in membership.

 A major lesson learnt is the contribution that local partnerships can make in solving complex cross cutting issues: social, economic, environmental. The key is direct contact at grassroots level with farmers and other stakeholders and creating imaginative links between their problems and local and national institutions that can solve them. Improved communication solves problems and often all sides will welcome a solution offered by a local partnership. This includes finding solutions to problems of interpretation of regulations which otherwise can block implementation.

Additional information:
see in right hand column downlaodable pdfs of
  1. farmers’ diary and calendar 2011 which effectively packaged information for farmers
  2. milk hygiene training brochure which improved farmer incomes
  3. From Semi-subsistence to Profit brochure with generic solutions to processing and marketing problems
  4. farm record sheet developed for local use and now used across Romania.
   

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Farmers Diary 2011
Download here (4.5mbpdf)
We offer this as an example of how complex information, covering many aspects of small-scale farm management and profitability, can be packaged in an accessible and user-friendly manner. 

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Milk Hygiene Training
Download here (1.4mb pdf)
This simple guide is helping thousands of farmers across Romania achieve higher milk quality, and higher milk prices, by improved management practices many of which require no investment of money.

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From Subsistence to Profit 2011
Download here (2.6mb pdf)
Also called How to live better from my farm, this handbook brings together many strands of information including generic design of farm-level or comminity-level micro-processing units, to help small scale farmers obtain a better income for themselves and their families.

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Farmers Register
Download here (645k pdf)
This farm register, designed by ADEPT in cooperation with the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, helps farmers keep the necessary records so that they are not penalised when inspected. Obviously vital for farm viability.

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Farmers Calender
Download here (3.9mb pdf)
This calendar, to go on the farmers wall, summarises key dates for farm activities and application deadlines.
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Sponsorul Oficial - Fundația Orange România