Cooperation between non-govermental and private sector helps Moldovan farmers get to foreign markets
Furceni village in the Orhei district offers a beautiful countryside view, but it’s not only the beauty of the place that makes the village well known. Here we organise open-air activities, called field days. For Moldovan farmers, field days mean opportunities for learning and experience sharing. The farmers visit demo plots periodically, one of which is situated in Furceni village, and talk to national experts. This helps them understand the new techniques used in organic agriculture and observe how efficient they are in practice.
The idea of setting up demo plots and holding field days emerged as a result of the cooperation between People in Need and PROBIO, a private company from the Czech Republic. Usually, NGOs and the private sector have few things in common and rarely develop partnerships, but our experience shows that such a cooperation can be efficient and can have various benefits.
PROBIO, established by two engineers Martin Hutař and Karel Matěj in 1992, is the first Czech producer of organic food products, now being an important supplier of a wide range of quality organic products in the country. In order to ensure the development of his business, Martin Hutař looked for partners interested in or working in organic agriculture. In 2014, after several visits to the Republic of Moldova and countless discussions with local farmers, he saw the opportunity to grow crops here, in Eastern Europe, instead of importing them from Turkey or China.
Being in touch with the local farmers
The cooperation between People in Need and PROBIO came naturally. For a private company that comes to a new country, it is important to understand from the beginning what is the potential of the sector where it will work, and to connect with local farmers. At that time, People in Need knew the agricultural context of the Republic of Moldova and already had contacts among farmers willing to create organic farms. All this information and knowledge meant useful resources, which People in Need shared with PROBIO.
As partners, we are all aiming to develop the organic sector, each from our own perspective – nongovernmental and private. This means that business pairing with social and environmental values to reach a common goal. How? Veronika Semelková, Project Manager for Moldova at PROBIO, explains: ‘Our interest is to have reliable suppliers that grow quality crops. And to be able to do that, we need to transfer know-how to Moldova, to the farmers. It is beneficial because we are educating farmers, and in the end this strengthens the whole sector’.
The chance to get to the foreign markets
The organic farmers, the People in Need team and PROBIO strive to achieve one thing – sustainability. The training programmes and activities like field days, organised with the support of People in Need, offer farmers a theoretical and practical basis to grow organic products, while the collaboration with PROBIO ensures clear opportunities for exporting the products. The year 2018 is important for all of us, because the first organic harvest will be exported later on – cereals, oil crops and legumes. For the six farmers with whom we worked intensively over the last two years this means sales market, reward for effort, time and money invested, but also the confidence to keep going on.
Beyond the results expected this year, all the projects regarding the development of organic agriculture in the Republic of Moldova – those implemented by People in Need, PROBIO, ÚKZÚZ or others – will have one logical framework. For the main donors supporting organic agriculture – Czech Development Agency and USAID Moldova – this means more coordination in actions, more responsibility and efficiency, and a greater impact. And who knows, maybe our experience as a nongovernmental organisation working together with a private company will inspire other NGOs and private companies to build partnerships in other sectors as well.