Help farmers improve their livelihoods by increasing their productivity and connecting them to markets.
Most Americans are unfamiliar with Moldova and its complicated history. In many ways, it is a forgotten country. Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Since gaining independence upon the collapse of the Soviet Union nearly twenty five years ago, the country has struggled with the societal stresses and economic dysfunction of the post-communist era. Moldova’s economy is still in transition, and those living in rural areas are disproportionately affected. Rural Moldovans make up 80% of the country’s poor and have lower levels of educational attainment than their urban counterparts. Widespread unemployment, high poverty rates, outdated infrastructure, and limited access to quality health-care services have left many Moldovans eager for change.
The agricultural sector has struggled to find its place in Moldova’s post-Soviet economy and suffers the highest poverty rates in the country. Land reform and farm restructuring policies have forced the rebuilding of the entire industry. Under the Soviet system, farmers produced for the state, so there was little regard for profit or quality. Marketing and building profitable business models are still relatively new concepts for many small-scale Moldovan farmers.
Prior to the Soviet collapse, Moldova was one of the top dairy countries in the world. Today, dairy farmers lack access to knowledge and funds that would help them improve their farms. Market opportunities, especially for rural farmers, are extremely limited due to geographic barriers. In addition, lack of business training, poor quality products, inefficient breeding techniques, limited veterinary services, and inadequate storage systems are a reality for many. Despite these obstacles, however, conditions for growth are optimal and demand for quality products is high.
Diaconia has partnered with ProCoRe, a Moldovan nonprofit, to help rural dairy and vegetable farmers increase their productivity and boost their incomes. The project aims to build knowledge and skills, increase production, connect farmers to markets, and improve farm management and infrastructure. By helping local farmers increase their yields and develop more sustainable practices, we hope to create long term change for both farmers and those living in their communities.
ProCoRe’s program centers upon education. Farmer Field Schools connect farmers and train them in new and improved farm management techniques. Educating farmers about proper artificial insemination techniques helps them to improve the quality and productivity of their animals. Information about animal nutrition and feed quality, along with increased access to quality veterinary services, enables farmers improve the health of their herd. Another way the program aims to improve efficiency, productivity, and quality is by working to update storage and processing facilities. A crucial aspect of the project is the exchange of best practices between Czech and Moldovan farmers. A week-long, intensive training program allows participants to visit and learn from numerous Czech agricultural operations.
In addition to improving techniques and infrastructure, ProCoRe focuses on boosting farmers’ incomes by connecting them to markets. The organization works to build relationships between dairy processing enterprises and farmers so that they can find solutions to common problems. Many farmers are motivated to update their farms but lack the funds needed to invest in big projects like purchasing machinery and building stables. ProCoRe helps farmers access funds and works to inform them about existing financial opportunities, such as credits and state subsidies, that can help their business grow.
Learn more about our work in Moldova is this video: