Rural development in action: the experience of Romania and the USA

Rural development in action: the experience of Romania and the USA

The Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi) facilitated a new round of discussions and exchange of ideas on rural development within the “Talk Rural Development in Moldova” platform.

The online discussion provided space for dialogue and exchange of perspectives between institutions and specialists/practitioners in the field of rural development in the Republic of Moldova, Romania and the USA. During the session, topics related to rural development policies in these countries were discussed, as well as practical examples that can be taken and adapted to the specifics of our country in order to advance the rural development agenda in the Republic of Moldova.

“Through these discussions we want to reorient the narrative about rural development not only in the direction of agricultural development, but also around the desideratum to improve the quality of life of people in villages and increase opportunities for them. Given the very rural specifics of the Republic of Moldova, the agricultural development policy must be urgently recalibrated in order to include this desideratum.” – Ruslan Stanga, public policy expert, founder of iRi.

“It is very important to develop non-agricultural activities in rural areas. People in rural areas want to have a job in the community, but this requires creating jobs by creating small businesses. Likewise, the development of services, infrastructure and various attractions will contribute to improving the quality of life of people in the village.” – Galina Petrachi, head of rural development policies and programs, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, Republic of Moldova.

Gabriela Matei, Head of Evaluation Office SCE, Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, spoke about the National Rural Development Program in Romania 2014-2020 and 2021-2022, the basics of elaboration, information measures, financial resources, agricultural and non-agricultural services development, challenges and lessons learned:

“The National Rural Development Program in Romania aims at restructuring and increasing the viability of agricultural holdings, sustainable management of natural resources and facing climate change, diversification of economic activities, job creation, improving infrastructure and services to improve the quality of life in rural areas. The support measure for the establishment of non-agricultural activities in rural areas registered the highest degree of access (323.1%)”.

“I believe that the first thing we need to do in rural areas is to make local communities pleasant and enjoyable to live in. This means having good services and schools, exciting and diverse activities, affordable medical services. From my experience in this field I understood that rural development is a long process. Firstly, you have to start with yourself, to develop yourself and then develop other people or at least assist them in being part of the solutions. The next step would be the development of leadership, the development of local institutions, which, together, lead to community development. If these issues are well organized, they will directly contribute to the economic development of the community, but the most important thing is not to be afraid of failure.” – Deb Martin, rural development expert, Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, Toledo, Ohio, USA.

The discussion encouraged a Q&A interaction between the 29 participants (LPA of level I and II, rural development specialists, NGO representatives, entrepreneurs, stakeholders, etc.) who showed interest in collaboration and exchange of experience between the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry from the Republic of Moldova and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Romania.

Dezvoltarea rurală în acțiune

“The examples of other states show that the rural development is based on the entrepreneurial spirit and the collaboration between the partners. Competition is one thing, but collaboration between partners is something else. Rural communities in Moldova are an unexplored treasure: cultural, economic. Therefore, the community man attachment can generate an extraordinary added value,” concluded Ruslan Stanga at the end of the event.

We are very glad that such discussions arouse the curiosity of various stakeholders in order to advance the field of rural development in the Republic of Moldova.

iRi continues the series of discussions on this topic and the next session is scheduled for April.

The activity is part of the project “ReThink Rural Moldova”, implemented by the Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi) and local partners with the support of the US Embassy in the Republic of Moldova.