Traditional products, modern farming

  

Ever since Romania had joined the European Union, the word of the day in agriculture had been modernization. Governmental strategies as well as EU’s demands constantly underlined the importance of Romanian agriculture to become a competitive one, and include in this process small farmers as much as big scale ones. However, small production farmers are mostly going alone on this road – with little access to European funds, but plenty of regulations to comply with, most of them remain at subsistence level and can not find the resources to go further.

What Heifer tries to advocate to farmers who have some potential to become role models in promoting modern agriculture style is that by working as a group they would be able to start making agriculture not just as a survival method, but also as profit-generating. With the help of Heifer International and the local public administration but also with a lot of motivation and will, this is what the farmers in Tulghes managed to take to an end, and see their project come true: a modern sheep fold in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains.

 
The newly built modern sheep fold

 

Presented by the media as a total success and a complete novelty in Romania, the modern sheep fold from Tulghes is now ready to offer a good example of modern style agriculture, proving the decisiveness and enthusiasm of its initiators. The event was presented by 4 most important national televisions, one of these broadcasted live. Also there were more than 12 newspaper articles about the event and also national radio broadcasting.

The construction of the modern sheep fold is part of Heifer’s Carpathian Project (phase II). The farmers received through the project the necessary equipment to make the sheep fold operational, and as a premiere also received a great support from the local public administration, which contributed with the equivalent of € 14.000 to the project. With the support from Heifer International and the local public administration, the community association had managed to build the sheep fold in not more than 2 months. On Sunday, the 21st of September, the entire community, together with many administration representatives, Heifer Romania team, national media and other guests, had already celebrated its opening, where common efforts have put the basis of a model story in the Romanian agriculture scene.

 
Mountain shepherd kids with a sheep

  

One of the first levels of success when it comes to the opening of the sheep fold is that Heifer Romania, through the initiative of the beneficiaries, had a significant contribution to advocate modern farming at national level. The construction of the sheep fold is now the living proof for farmers that modernization is needed and can be done in sheep breeding, and that through joined work, farmers can accomplish their dreams. The partnership with the local public administration is another major proof that in this initiative, cooperation is above all important.

On the second level, the sheep fold has a great impact on the way sheep breeding is done in the region, by improving the conditions without having to change the traditions. One of the important aspects of the project is that farmers are encouraged and helped to keep the local touch of their products and habits, by using a modern context. Farmers are trained in special classes that will enable them to follow the European regulations; the sheep fold is fully equipped with everything that a modern sheep fold is supposed to have. Pushed by the European Union rules, farmers could not capitalize their products before due to hygiene standards. Now, that the sheep fold complies with all standards, farmers have a gateway to the market, and will be able to sell their local products.

 
Opening ceremony – one of the farmers, Ioan Agapi (president of the Mountain Farmers’ Association)
and a local public administration representative

 

Being highly promoted by the media and supported by local administration representatives, the opening of the first modern sheep fold in Romania has been a great success both for Heifer’s advocacy initiatives as for our contribution to the development of the beneficiaries from subsistence farmers to independent and powerful producers. The new sheep fold is a proof that our efforts find their accomplishment and an important asset for the development of traditional agriculture combined with modern means.
 

Corina Bucea
Program assistant
Heifer Romania
October 2008

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