Innovation in Rural Development
During recent decades, agriculture has experienced major productivity gains. But this trend slowed down in developed countries in recent years. These gains were achieved partly by putting serious strains on natural resources and the environment. 45% of European soils face problems of soil quality (symptomised by low levels of organic matter), and 25% suffer from erosion. Valuable ecosystems, and with them, valuable eco-system services have been damaged or have even disappeared.
These phenomena are not confined to the technologically most advanced parts of the European Union. Europe also has a huge potential in areas characterised by small and traditional farms. However, if those farms follow the same pattern of development, major environmental damage will be inflicted on existing, often rich habitats and biodiversity, and on soil functionality and water resources.
A shift towards a different growth path is needed in order to establish competitive and sustainable agriculture in Europe, and to ensure continued supply of the ecosystem services that we all need. This applies even more urgently to those parts of Europe where farmed ecologically functioning landscapes still exist: it is easier by far, and less costly, to preserve ecosystems than to re-create them.
See the Communication for the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the European Innovation Partnership on Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability, Brussels, 29.2.2012 COM(2012) 79 final.
This new path is brought together under the theme of innovation
, as part of the European Commission’s new European Innovation Partnership (EIP). This is not a direct source of funding, but is a vision for policy-making, and for integrating the varied funding and technical support possibilities that exist.
Fundatia ADEPT is carrying out various integrated and innovative policies along these lines - as summarised below and in linked pages.
summarising innovative approaches to rural development used by Fundatia ADEPT Transylvania.
Examples of innovative approaches by Fundatia ADEPT for increasing the economic viability of small-scale farms, communities and landscapes:
- one-stop shop for farmers, providing information on a wide range of topics that can be confusing: applications for support measures; how to meet obligations linked to these measures; food safety and hygiene regulations for processing and direct sales; marketing; business planning
- advisory materials that are clear, and bring together information required. For example, the handbook From Subsistence to Profit - How to live better from my farm, which brings together many strands of information including generic design of farm-level or community-level micro-processing units, to help small scale farmers obtain a better income for themselves and their families
- information groups for farmers, packaging information in usable forms, and training in implementation. This strongly involves raising the capapcity and increasing the role of existing farmers associations, and cooperation with the Romanian National Rural Development Network (see information and local economy page)
- marketing initiatives developing modern brands and packaging, and developing a chain of genuine farmers markets across Romania (see food and markets pages)
- unique publicity initiatives such as CAP Information Measure and Art of Dar jam and honey, a combination of highest quality fruits and honey with unique craftmanship to creat profile and publicity for the traditions of specific area (see crafts page)
- imaginative development of rural tourism, including innovative mountain bike trails which attract visitors and income to the area (see innovative tourism page)
- direct and creative cooperation with the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, on the design of measures in current and future Rural Development Programmes based on practical experiences, and working together to solve implementation problems
- effective integration of the many tools available under the current Rural Develpment Programme, so that they add together to provide economic sustainability at farm and community level
- developing imaginative technical means for communication of information, such as mobile phone SMS and applications for easy access by farmers and consumers to up to date information
The impact of this integrated information project has been remarkable.... increased local incomes of over €2m per year in the Tarnava Mare area, having a great impact on local prosperity. As a result, we have been consulted by DG Agriculture on the design of the Cooperation Measure in the legislative proposals for the EAFRD post-2013.
Art of Dar
The Art of Dar is an innovative product that combines highest quality Transylvanian foods and crafts, and has successfully used a news story, provoking media interest, to raise the profile of Transylvanian products in general.
The product line was launched in SIAL world food trade fair in Paris, in October 2012. It is sold in limited numbers; 1,000 for each product: 1,000 to be sold, for 365Euros each, and the final one to be auctioned internationally. See film clip here.
The unique design of the product, and its position as the most expensive jam in the world (reflecting the priceless value of the nature, food and culture of the area) have created wide media attention. See Art of dar website
SMS Family Farms
Information and local economy
CAP information measure
Innovation and local products
Mobile phone SMS information system for small-scale farmers
After a 3 month trial, a mobile phone SMS information system is now available for farmers. The system, SMSFF (SMS Family Farms, or SMS Ferme Familiale), is free of charge, and is primarily aimed at helping small-scale farmers to have full-time access to announcements of funding opportunities, application deadlines, market opportunities, etc., even when they do not have regular access to the internet. This applies especially to isolated farms and villages, and shepherds who are away from home. For further details and to register for the service, click here.
The project presented by Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania was developed with communication specialists KAMA System Ltd, and supported by Fundația Orange and by the Swiss Romanian Cooperation Fund.
Smart phone app to encourage responsible tourism
Fundaţia ADEPT Transilvania’s project – "Discover Târnava Mare" is a touristic mini guide through which you can visit and plan, overall, a walk through Târnava Mare - Transylvania.
Innovation in food processing
These simple guides have immediately helped farmers across Romania achieve higher prices for their products, with an immediate impact on farm incomes and farm viability, by providing simple, practical solutions to farmers problems. at a stroke reversing the steep fall in numbers of dairy farmers and of dairy cows.
Innovation in Food Supply Chains
Know your food, know where it comes from campaign: message that the EU supports local and traditional food, small-scale producers and short supply chains reached 1.3m Romanian citizens by making local markets into a media story.
Local income from well-managed landscapes
A unique mountain-bike trail
created with local labour, volunteers and minimal investment increased the number of visitors that stayed in one area by 3,000 in the first year, 2011. The increased local income yielded several times the initial investment in just one year.