Access to specialized information is a key element in the long-term development of small farmers. RAF and partner organizations propose a framework for testing, learning and adapting models of consulting services for farmers, as complementary means in an integrated support system for small farmers in the context of Romania.
Romanian small farmers are facing challenges in obtaining, understanding, and adapting relevant information for their economic development. This impacts both their specific sectorial technical competencies ( food processing, farm mechanisation, storage and refrigeration, energy and biofuels, soil and water conservation, fertilizers, etc.) and their business competencies (operational management, HR management, marketing, sales, financial management, project writing, etc.).
The source of this problems is twofold:
- Lack of knowledge: Only 3,2% of Romanian small farmers have agricultural studies vs. 31,6% EU average; Romania has one of the lowest levels of professional education for small farmers (according to the National Strategic Plan 2021-2027).
- Lack of infrastructure: Romania is missing a national and efficient infrastructure and responsible institutions to constantly support the development of small farmers.
To improve farmers’ learning and growth opportunities, we see it is important to address the need for structured, coherent, and inclusive approaches/systems regarding their access to information. These approaches should be practical and quality focused, taking into consideration policy and market trends.
RAF program proposes a framework for testing, learning and adapting a system of advisory services as well as a university-based extension service, inspired by the USA model, as complementary means in an integrated support system for small farmers in Romania’s context.
The program will work in two main directions:
1. Agricultural Advisory Services: Piloting an accessible and relevant know-how sharing system (January-December 2022 exploratory grant, CIVITAS in partnership with CRPE)
The project will assess the national status-quo and present reality-based recommendations for piloting an efficient model of agricultural advisory system, addressing both small farmers‘ needs for knowledge and the infrastructure to respond to them, tailored to the farmers’ needs.
2. Agricultural Extension Services: Developing extension services models in universities (May2022-March 2023, CIEE in partnership with CRPE)
The program aims to develop effective extension services models for small farmers and agri businesses, hosted by Romanian universities, and field-test the respective concepts.
In November a group of Romanian professors, from faculties of agriculture, will participate in a two-week study visit hosted in three selected US universities, to acquirean in-depth understanding of the extensions’ ecosystems, their model and approach on research, sharing of knowledge and innovation.
Participants in this initial study visit will gain insight and knowledge for application within their universities and the group will be facilitated to offer recommendations for a long-term program and to develop local strategies for their universities.