Promoting sustainable production for small-scale farming communities in a Natura 2000 landscape in Transylvania

Support rural communities in bringing local benefits from the traditional land management

Funded by: Innovation Norway

Project Duration: 2009 - 2011 (2 years)

Budget: 605.000 Euro

Project Objectives

  • Develop a sustainable model to address the negative effects of the crisis on the milk market by building end equipping eight milk collection centres in Tarnava Mare area and improving on milk quality by offering specific trainings to the local farmers.
  • Conservation of the biodiversity of this man-made landscape is only possible by maintaining the farming activity economic viability.

The agricultural economy can have profound effects on HNV landscape conservation. For example, many small and medium size dairy farmers are selling their livestock because milk processing companies no longer collect milk from their villages. This is critically damaging small-scale HNV farmer livelihoods, and also the landscape since livestock are essential for maintenance of pastures and hay-meadows.

Project Updates

8 milk collection centres build up to EU standard in free-rent premises and equipped with relevant equipment (including milk testing equipment) in eight villages in Târnava Mare area: Laslea, Biertan, Apold, Danes, Albesti, Vanatori, Saschiz, Viscri.

The milk collection point provides shared quality control and cooling /collection facilities for local communities. By improved quality (training) and quantity (larger bulk tanks, more farmers participating) and direct negotiation with milk processor companies the local community felt the real outcomes of the project. ADEPT has offered training on how to use/maintain the machinery. By negotiating with milk processors and farmer associations being responsible, the milk price went up 20-30%. The result halt in falling cow numbers in the villages concerned. Hundreds of hectares of abandoned hay meadows have been brought back under good management.

  • 100 farmers trained in organic farming certification, milk hygiene, product marketing
  • certification and producer group organisation application files prepared in the benefit of at least 100 farmers
  • 2 Farmers’ Markets established

The collapse of the milk market for small producers threatens the existence of farmers' communities, which by traditional management maintain the High Nature Value landscapes and cultural values ​​in Romania.

There is a direct link between agricultural activities for milk production and biodiversity conservation. If farmers give up traditional grassland management; (mowing and grazing), these meadows will be drastically affected. These meadows are protected and are of major importance at European level. Farmers who have created them for hundreds of years are the only ones who will be able to maintain their ecological quality in the future.

ADEPT supports milk producers in the Târnava Mare area to obtain a better price on the milk produced by improving quality.

One of the main drivers for this initiative was the need to increase milk prices to stop the fall of cow numbers in the area. Each cow lost = 1 ha of high biodiversity grassland abandoned/converted to sheep grazing. Precious High Nature Value meadows are being abandoned because fewer people available to scythe by hand, and fields are too inaccessible/too sloping for tractor use. In some area 30% of hay meadows are abandoned. ADEPT thought on how to bring these meadows back into use, with benefits to local economy and to biodiversity.

Managing Body & Contact

Cristi Gherghiceanu

Executive President
Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Ben Mehedin

Food&Farming Communities Manager
Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Tel: 004 (0) 752 264 580

Viscri Association Video

We have developed village associations as centres of innovation and expertise. By improving milk quality and quantity, and assisting with negotiations with milk processing companies, we have increased the price of milk obtained by the farmers, and halted the decline in cow numbers in the area. We contributed to strengthening the association as a tool for spreading innovation and improved quality.

High Profile Visits

“I am visiting this model milk collection point and milk processing unit because they represent a vital link in the chain between nature, landscape and people. They translate biodiversity into prosperity. I applaud the work of ADEPT, Innovation Norway and Orange Romania in creating these units.” HRH The Prince of Wales 

Read more 

Milk Quality Management Guide

A practical guide for farmers. This brochure provides step-by-step guides to solve some common hygiene problems that can be solved simply. We believe that a combination of farmers' milk training combined with the availability of good equipment for storing and testing milk can solve the problem of farmers and help them to survive in the new EU conditions.

Our Partners

Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania