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Agritourism - investment in development. Building agricultural advisory potential for the development of Moldova’s rural areas by agritourism.

The standard of living of Moldova’s rural residents is low and is accompanied by poor awareness as to the possibilities of developing non-agricultural forms of activity. The profitability of traditional farming trades as well as the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly in agritourism, remain at a low level. Moldova is an agricultural country, with about 60% of the inhabitants living in rural areas. Agricultural production is not very efficient, generating only 13.8% of GDP (75% of the country’s territory consists of agricultural areas rich in fertile soil). According to the National Bureau of Statistics of Moldova (NBSM), the income of only 7.2% of rural residents is derived from non-agricultural activity (2013). Moldova has the potential to develop non-agricultural activity, including tourist activity. However, the potential of agritourism is not fully utilised. According to the NBSM, since 2009 there has been an increase in the number of tourists visiting the country, mainly for recreational and leisure purposes (54.4% in 2013).

The Moldovan countryside offers unique organic produce (fruit, vegetables, honey, peanuts), good quality wine which is popular in western countries and has a unique landscape abundant in orchards, vineyards, fields of watermelon and sunflowers, and a dense network of rivers. Another tourist product is the traditional cuisine based on farm produce and local products.

Other diagnosed problems related to non-agricultural activity in Moldova are the inadequate quality of tourist and agritourist services. In 2013, there were only 94 hotels and motels, 6 hostels, 62 guesthouses and only 19 agritourist farms. In 2004-2013, the number of agritourist farms rose from 5 to 19, but their number still remains small.

There is not enough knowledge about the trends in tourism and attractions available in rural areas. Training in know-how is insufficient. Thus, it becomes necessary to strengthen and expand the capacity of the network of agricultural advisors, to include examples of best practices, experience exchange, and updating of knowledge in accordance with the European trends and standards in agritourism. Currently, only 35 of the 425 advisors within the partnership organisation ACSA have undergone training concerning support for non-agricultural activity. It is necessary to increase the number of trained advisors in the field of legal regulations, creation of business plans, promotion and benefits of agritourism. The advisors should stimulate the development of agritourism, which is a priority component of the multi-functional development of rural areas.

The actions will lead to greater occupational and social activation as well as an improvement of the standard of living of rural residents. This clearly follows from the Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy of Moldova for the period 2014-2020, where Priority 3 consists of improvement of the standard of living of rural residents, and in this Measure 3.2. “Growth of non-agricultural employment and opportunities for increasing income of rural residents (…). This may assume the forms of support for the creation and development of agritourist services or non-agricultural micro-entrepreneurship (…).”

The project is a continuation and expansion of earlier projects of the applicant, e.g.: “Start your own business in the countryside. Non-agricultural business activity to improve the quality of life of Ukrainian rural residents (agritourism)” (MFA 77/2011). The project resulted in improvement of knowledge and skills of 127 participants by means of training and study visits; activation of Ukrainian local communities to improve the quality of life in the countryside, through the implementation of agritourist programmes; and the issue of 1,200 copies of a publication disseminating knowledge.

Agritourism - investment in development. Building agricultural advisory potential for the development of Moldova’s rural areas by agritourism.

The project is aimed at improving the quality of life of rural residents of Moldova, through the support for modernisation of rural areas and the creation of new jobs outside traditional agricultural production. Developed agritourism will be followed by significant investment in the rural areas, thus halting the outflow of its residents (particularly young people).

The actions will enhance building the capacity of agricultural consultancy, benefiting development of rural areas through agritourism. The development of non-agricultural activity will improve the economic situation, raise the higher standard of living of the people who live and run businesses in rural areas, create new jobs, provide alternative income, and encourage occupational activation. The project will raise more interest in non-agricultural activity in rural areas of Moldova, which is necessary to ensure sustainable development.

Agritourism is a key and priority component of the multi-functional development of rural areas. Effective measures are needed to increase the activity of agricultural advisors in the field of agritourism and to encourage development of small and medium-sized enterprises in rural areas of Moldova.

Agritourism - investment in development. Building agricultural advisory potential for the development of Moldova’s rural areas by agritourism.

  1. As a result of the project’s implementation, each of the detailed aims will bring specific, measurable effects. These include:
  2. Training for 18 beneficiaries: agricultural consulting representatives and, possibly, aspiring agritourist entrepreneurs.
  3. Transferring to ACSA Moldovan trainers, who conduct training together with Polish trainers, experiences and skills to independently conduct training for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) advisors in the future.
  4. Preparation of 60 pages of training material and a 50-page publication which – together with the material from study visits – will be included in the manual “10 steps to start your own agritourist business.”
  5. Preparation by project participants of local projects for the development of agritourism, for five pilot districts.
  6. Establishment of direct contacts between Moldovan agricultural advisors and Polish agricultural consulting centres, sector associations, model farms etc. – study visit to Poland.
  7. Issue of a manual in 800 copies in printed version and 500 copies in digital form, on planning, starting and running a non-agricultural SME in Moldova (agritourism).