Rural Development and High Nature Value Farmlands in Romania

Improved economic viability of local livelihoods from HNV farmlands in Romania and conservation of agri-environmental benefits.

Funded by: the Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Programme

Project Duration: 2013 - 2016 (3 years)

Budget: 365.420 Euro

Project Objectives

Finding ways to maintain traditional farming systems is critical not only for securing the survival of vibrant rural communities and high quality food, but also for conserving nature and the services it provides. It is crucial to help farmers obtain access to the two sources of income: market sales (of HNV goods and services) and state funding (which should be regarded not as support funding, but as payment for valuable public goods).

This is what the project Rural Development and High Nature Value Farmland in Romania is all about: preserving and boosting the social, economic and environmental values of Europe’s most important HNV farmed landscapes, by bringing an innovative approach which can increase prosperity while protecting the sustainable use of natural resources.

  • Policy: Rural development policies better address threats and integrate trends and needs of HNVF communities
  • Training and capacity building: HNV farmers and organisations in the study areas have higher capacity to:
    • Access markets and to make use of funding opportunities;
    • Pass on skills and innovative approaches to develop HNV farming into a sustainable income-generating activity.
  • Marketing: HNV farmers/producers in the study areas have better access to markets for their products

The project aims to use innovative means to bring genuine long-term prosperity to these areas, stimulating commercial viability as well as public funding support (“public money for public goods and services”). There are growing opportunities to revive rural economies, to secure livelihoods and maintain HNVF areas. Growing interest amongst urban populations in food quality and provenance, as evidenced by the growing popularity of farmer markets, food festivals and movements, is opening new markets for such products.

Project Updates

Rural Development and High Nature Value Farmland in Romania is a joint project carried out in cooperation between Agridea (Switzerland) and 3 Romanian NGOs: Fundația ADEPT Transilvania, WWF-Romania and ProPark Foundation. These lead partners teamed up with NGOs in 6 HNV areas around Romania - local partners - with whom the main team worked closely to design and implement project ideas along 3 main pillars: policy, training and marketing.

The project designed and tested ways to solve the problems & threats  HNV farmlands are facing  by proposing policy improvements, designing training courses that respond to the needs of small-scale farmers, and carrying out analyses of barriers to market and proposing innovative marketing initiatives.


Local partners’ reports on the HNV characteristics of their areas, and key concerns for future viability, were used to support the design of policy recommendations, Project partners cooperated with the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in the period 2014-15, when the new Rural Development Programme was defined.

The detailed design of measures was improved as a result of proposals by project NGOs; for example, varied mowing dates according to altitude, and higher payments to protect hay meadows, faults which had been identified by project partners in 2013. As a result of feedback from farmers, during the project, we are making further policy proposals.


We took the first steps in creating an Information Network, by establishing an SMS information system for farmers. ADEPT won first prize, for Innovative Communication, at the EU CAP Communication Awards 2013, for this innovative information system. We are using it to pass information of funding, training and marketing opportunities, and currently connecting nearly 1,000 farmers.

In September 2015, HNV was given a high profile at the annual RuralFest in the centre of Bucharest. This was a major marketing milestone; producers’ stalls were all gathered together under a shared HNV concept, which gave it a major public boost. We were also invited by MARD to hold a conference for the Rural Development and High Nature Value Farmland in Romania project in the MARD official tent. Speakers at the meeting included the Director of Rural Development from

MADR, the State Secretary from the Ministry of Environment, the Head of the Swiss Contribution Office, as well as producers and consumers. This mini-conference at RuralFest helped to consolidate our project results with the farmers, and to demonstrate the support of the ministries involved.

The closing international conference was held on 15 March 2016 in Bucharest, gathering 159 participants, presented the HNV concept, how it can offer a viable economic future for rural communities, provide healthy food and landscapes, and maintain the vital core of Romania’s cultural identity. Read more


The marketing component of the project assessed the present state of the food market at national level and in the study areas to create a unique, umbrella-brand and positioning of HNV products to address critical needs in study areas. The team has concentrated on food products that are typical of HNV areas and dominant in the local partners’ range of products: milk and dairy, fruits and fruit products (jams, juices), honey and meat.

HNV products need to be kept separate from other types of products and to embrace a common identity, for them to maintain their value and to help farmers strengthen and develop their farms into viable businesses.

Differentiation is the most suited marketing strategy for HNV products. What differentiates them from other products is the fact that they are natural, minimally processed products, with a varying full taste which come from small family farms in mosaic landscapes and support the survival of rural economies and nature. They could fill the demand of educated, discerning consumers with an environmental awareness and a taste for travel in rural areas and cooking.

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