SALSA Bistrița-Năsăud: Low price, lack of labour force, limited subsidies for small farmers

​The main problems that cause small farmers in Bistrița-Năsăud to produce less are the very low prices offered by intermediaries for the raw products, the lack of the necessary work force for daily activities and the low level of subsidies. This information was received directly from the field on the two meetings held in Târlişua and Măgura Ilvei, meetings attended by over 40 small farmers in the area, especially on the vegetable, meat and milk production. The main purpose of these meetings, organized within a European research project, Horizon 2020, SALSA (Small Farmers, Small Food and Sustainable Food Security), is to find out more about the current food production situation in Romania, but also how we can make sure that healthy products will be available in the future, while maintaining a specific life-style, vital for rural communities and for biodiversity.

Although subsidies are welcome, they only provide the limit for the survival of small farmers, as they have said in Măgura Ilvei. Many said that without subsidies would not keep even a cow. Milk production in some areas is limited to individual consumption and many have given up going to the market. A solution to some of these problems can be found through association, as the over 200 members of the newly established Togeș-Someș-Meleş Agricultural Cooperative want to demonstrate. “We have teamed up because we hope to get better prices for our work and even get to collect and process milk and meat products in the near future” said Florin Bruzo, president of Târlişua Cooperative.

“The SALSA (Small Farm, Small Food and Sustainable Food Security) project implemented by Highclere Consulting SRL is funded by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 Research Program and has a very complex mission: it wants to find out who feeds us” , said Raluca Barbu, project manager in Romania. These data, in their most correct and realistic form, come from those who are part of the whole process, from planting the seed or raising the animal to the store shelf, farmers or merchants, and they are all considered strategic partners of this approach. “We want to find out who these people are, what kind of life they are having, what they produce and how they organize their work, how and where they sell their products, what issues and needs they have, and especially what they expect from the European Commission and the Romanian authorities. All this information will be part of the recommendations for future laws and funding, which we want to support more integrated agriculture and closer to the producer”, added Raluca Barbu.

In the spring, similar meetings were held in the south of the country, in Giurgiu county and in Bucharest, and were focused on the production of vegetables, cereal production and consumers/authorities. 100 people participated: small farmers and other agricultural producers in Giurgiu, traders, distributors, representatives of hypermarkets, representatives of regional and central authorities and consumer associations. The next such meeting will be held in Cluj-Napoca in July 2018.

Irina Toma, Highclere Consulting