Civitas Foundation for Civil Society – Cluj Subsidiary

Civitas Foundation for Civil Society – Cluj Subsidiary
Community Based Rural Initiatives involve the development of associative structures of small farmers assisted by a NGO that can become self-sustainable and after break-even can pass on the support
Social Purpose: 
When it comes to Romania's development one of the arguments most plead is the agricultural potential that our country enjoys. Very often we find statements underlining that Romania, with its agricultural potential could feed a greater number of persons than is happening now or that Romania could become the breadbasket of Europe. Our project is designed to answer some questions/problems that make agricultural potential insufficiently exploited: 1. The lack of associations in agriculture, 2. The low competitiveness of agricultural products made in Romania, 3. Lack of agricultural development initiatives that include small and medium producers in Romania, 4. Lack of technology and basic knowledge of entrepreneurship. Lack of community development and consultancy services adapted to the small farmers needs and in accordance with their financial capacity. These problems become more apparent and lead to excessive fragmentation of agricultural land; lack of local goods to markets, lack of interest in agriculture is manifested by a high proportion of uncultivated agricultural land. Many rural communities face enormous economic challenges of low population size and density and remoteness, which in turn bring diseconomies of scale and increased costs in doing business. The public policy context is not encouraging with rural policy dictated by agri-business interests, fiscal crises at the state level, and no organized constituency for rural community in all its diversity. In our micro region there are at least 10.000 small farmers that are facing all these challenges, living from subsistence agriculture. In reliance of this project comes the statistical data on rural areas in Romania – for example, the population working in agriculture is the largest in the EU according to Eurostat (30% - 2010), and has the largest acreage for certain products, but at the same time we're at the end of the ranking in terms of productivity. In the countryside, in 2011, the main source of household income was the agricultural production, which provided 44.3% of total revenues. Most of them (37.4% of total revenues) was represented by the equivalent consumption of agricultural products from own resources, money income from agriculture providing 6.9% of total income of rural households. In Romania the percentage of people working "on their own" in agriculture is the largest in Europe and well above the EU average, according to National Statistical Institute. The share of non-employed in agriculture (mainly self-employed and unpaid family workers) in 2011 was 26.8%, the largest in Europe, and well above the EU average of 3.5%. According to Eurostat, Romania is a European state with the most agricultural holdings.
Social Impact: 
The program expected impact is divided in two main areas: 1) Impact on the particular target group and 2) Impact at regional and national scale. In the case of first area, the impact will be visible and quantifiable in the changing of business approaches for local farms and in the development of the framework for the association. This will increase the competitiveness of local agricultural products, will enhance the development of initiatives of small and medium growers, will bind the innovation transfer in terms of technology and last but not least will improve the entrepreneurial methods nowadays used (In terms of marketing, planning, funding). In the next three years the target number will reach at least 40 farmers and at least 8 rural communities involved in the program. We will need information related to all the communities having local potential for our intervention. We will find this information in the Local Development Strategies, documents that are available at the local public administration level. Through the content of the strategies we will be able to decide if our intervention or services are needed in those communities. Secondly, the program will have an important component of awareness rising and making out a case for associativity in agricultural based entrepreneurship. Furthermore the program will act as a good practices model for the future development of similar interventions. These will lead to positive changes in growers’ behaviour towards associativity, openness towards innovative technology, adaptation on the free market and professionalization in terms of management. We estimate that at the end of the program to record increased interest from neighbouring communities to join this initiative and on long-term to see increased cultivated land and increase the number of associative forms created.
Innovative Character: 
Building CBRI tailored on the local economic opportunities can become a strong alternative for local people. If until now, other initiatives have involved short and punctual interventions that have failed, novelty itself consists of: Identifying the real value in those communities, creating the initiative group and community development activities, involving as a member in the group with equal rights and risk sharing, developing one social business plan based on participatory methods (through repeated meetings with farmers), plans for growth and coagulation of these forms to the development of an integrated cluster. Longer part of our idea: changing social consciousness about the collaboration within and between communities, such as the association at community level, creating/adjusting a pilot and replicable model which combines the community implication, training, production of local products, marketing, sales, and networking collaboration (social and economic objective), creating added value products made by people located in the proposed area (social and economic objective). In the EU Common Market Organization supports the development of producer groups and other associations. If the degree of organization in the Netherlands is 104 % and the EU average is 34 %, in Romania the degree of organization of producers is very low, below 1%. At the national level runs the program "Rural Development through Entrepreneurship and Association" - initiated and funded by the Romanian – American Foundation in partnership with Civitas Foundation and other 5 organizations. In the new Rural Development Programme will be new measures dedicated to the development of associative structures in agriculture through integrated programs to support these associations. Civitas Foundation for Civil Society managed to develop and implement a community intervention model in order to create such associative structures. We developed two similar initiatives in two different communities. We realized that in this area, before our intervention, there were other similar initiatives that failed because of lack of such intervention models, lack of community component. This model requires a strong intervention at the beginning stages of cohesion of the group, of the recording the entity and gradual withdrawal in the first three years, so at that time the co-operative to become self-sustainable.
Scaling Trajectory: