romaniaRomania is an East European country bordering the Black Sea. Its capital is Bucharest and the population is about 21 million. Economically, Romania joined the European Union in 2007, and is economically rated by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income country. The country is administratively divided into 41 counties, which are administered by county councils. Each county is sub-divided into cities, towns and municipalities (total number 319) and communes (total number 2,705), which have their own mayors and local councils.

Context

Context

The country is mountainous in the north and more so in the center while the south is covered by the vast Danube River Valley. The climate is temperate, continental. Romania enjoys pleasant springs, mostly warm summers with some hot locations, rainy and cool autumns, and cold, sometimes freezing winters with some rain but mostly snow falling on the western mountains. Blowing humid and dry winds is a feature of the Romania’s climate.

Romania is basically an agricultural country. In 2009, the agricultural sector contributed about 12.4 percent to the national GDP. However, the number of people employed in agriculture has been steadily declining in recent years. Romania has gone through land reforms restructuring of its farming sector since 1989. Redistribution of the Soviet-era collective state farms among people has generated more than 3.9 million farm holdings, of which 1.6 million are of less than one hectare, 1.1 million are of less than three hectares, 290,000 are in the range of 10-20 hectares, and 255 are of more than 2,000 hectares (the latter cultivating 11 percent of the agricultural area). One major result of the land restitution measures has been the dominance of subsistence farming in Romania which, apart from being of certain possible public benefits, is economically not feasible and has apparently slowed down the flourishing of commercial agriculture. Major crops grown are corn and wheat, covering most of the arable land. Other crops include barley, oats, rice, hay, sunflowers, potatoes, soybeans, sugar beets and tobacco. Grapes for wine making are also grown. Livestock include sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, poultry and rabbits. Fishery is popular in Black Sea coastal area and the Danube Delta.

Romania, as a member of the European Union, has been receiving its share of benefits like other new member states. However, at the same time, Romania has been emerging more as a donor of development assistance than a recipient of international aid. The Modernizing Agricultural Knowledge & Information Systems Project (MAKIS), financed by the World Bank, was implemented from 2005 to 2013. The objective of the project was to enhance productivity and quality of agro-food products, modernize and improve the food processing and marketing chains, and increase agricultural incomes for sustainable development. The project worked closely with agricultural universities located in different regions of Romania. Other extension related projects in Romania include Extension of Implementing Local Agenda 21 in Romania (UNDP/Ministry of European Integration), Extension for Eco-profit sub-project, and Consortium of Rural Development and Extension Sub-project, all under the Agricultural Services Support Project (World Bank).

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

139,820

60.74

8,995,000

39.08

0.42

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)

48.49

2009

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

6.86

100.42

8.54

7.42

2012

2011

2011

2011

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

8420

2012

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

97.67

97.43

97.15

100.28

98.92

2010

2010

2010

2010

2010

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

109.15

44.02

2011

2011

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)

21,326,905

92.91

10,055,721

47.15

8.44

10,248,388

869,000

8.47

43.26

2012

2011

2012

2012

2010

2011

2010

2011

2011

Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

History

History of Extension and the Enabling Environmentt

During the Soviet-era

The process of the collectivization of agriculture in Romania started around the mid-1940s when a communist regime came into power. Model collective structures comprising collective agricultural institutions and state agricultural institutions were established and demonstrated to the peasants. Following the Soviet model, individual farms were transformed into large state-owned collective farms, and peasants were instructed to join the collective agricultural institutions along with their farm buildings, tools and animals. Wealthy peasants who resisted the collectivization were punished. There is no information available on extension support given to the peasants during the communist rule in Romania. After the overthrow of the communist government in Romania and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Romania initiated the process of land and agricultural reforms that still continues.

In preparation for EU Accession

Although Romania joined the European Union (EU) in 2007, the process for establishing an extension and advisory system for farmers was initiated in 1998 under an EU-funded project within the framework of PHARE Program meant for pre-accession phase. A National Agency for Agricultural Consulting (ANCA) was established in Romania, with headquarters in Bucharest. ANCA had one County Center for Agricultural Consulting (OJCA) in each of the 41 counties. At the lower administrative level were the Local Centers for Agricultural Consulting (CLCA). This top-down, centralized structure under the Ministry of Agriculture was meant to provide extension, advisory and consulting services to the farmers.

Decentralization and its reversal

In 2001, the public extension and advisory services were decentralized, and OJCAs and CLCAs were placed under the county authorities for administrative and financial matters. Responsibilities for technical aspects and coordination of information and training of farmers in particular were retained by ANCA.  In view of the fact that the staff of OJCAs and CLCAs were underpaid, had poor farm-level practical training, and remained loaded with numerous non-extension tasks, their performance remained quite unsatisfactory. This situation necessitated the reversal of decentralization in 2004, and the placement of OJCAs and CLCAs once again under ANCA, with the Ministry of Agriculture enjoying overall authority. The ANCA performed three major functions. First, training of farmers and supporting the producer associations; second, provision of necessary information to the farmers on the European Union requirements and sources of funds that could be accessed to meet those requirements; and third, provision of assistance to the farmers in preparing detailed farm business plans. In 2006, the ANCA’s regional and local offices organized 2,926 training courses, covering a total of 170,791 participants. Thus ANCA’s played a key role in accrediting the farmers to enable them to receive European Union subsidies.

Steps towards farmers’ participation

In 2006, a two-person European technical assistance team visited Romania and made a recommendation aimed at initially sharing the management of ANCA and OJCAs between the government and farmers’ representatives, and then the farmers’ representatives taking over full management responsibility though remaining under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture. Another recommendation was the creation of a legal public structure, Chambers of Commerce, to be led by elected representatives of farmers, as is the case in Austria and France.

In 2006, another technical assistance team comprising two European experts came to Romania and prepared a medium-term strategy in line with the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The objective was to make extension services integrated and farmers’ need-based, and the creation of Agricultural Chambers for the delivery of those services. The proposal regarding the Agricultural Chambers being fully managed by the farmers’ representatives, as in West European countries, was not accepted by the Romanian Government.  However, it was agreed that the Agricultural Chambers would be managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and local authorities, while farmers will be represented on the governing boards or councils. Another proposal of the experts was accepted under which farmers’ organizations including the Agricultural Chambers were to be developed gradually, but public services reform was to be done urgently, following “one-stop shop” model.

Decentralization—yet again

In 2010, the Law on Decentralization of Selected Institutions under the Sub-ordination of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Rural Development through the Reorganization of Agricultural Directorates for Agriculture and Rural Development and Setting-up of Agricultural Chambers” was adopted. This law reversed the process of reform leading to the detachment of OJCAs and CLCAs from ANCA and placing them once again under the regional and local councils, as was done in 2001. ANCA, which had become a purely technical advisory body without any operational responsibility, was later dismantled altogether. Some of its staff is still working in a small unit of consultancy, extension and training under the Department of Agricultural Policies, Ministry of Agriculture.

Evolving Agricultural Chambers  

Romania has recently adopted the Law for Agricultural Chambers for Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development. As the Agricultural Chambers is supposed to be a farmer-managed organization, necessary steps such as election for farmers’ representatives are being taken. It will be quite long before the intended Agricultural Chambers is properly established and becomes fully functional in Romania. Presently, OJCAs and CLCAs are operating as Agricultural Chambers administratively under the regional and local councils, while the Ministry of Agriculture is handling technical matters and operational coordination.

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Extension Providers

Major Institutions Providing Extension/Advisory Services

Public Institutions

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has overall responsibility for policy level decision making for public agricultural extension, advisory and consulting services. However, due to decentralization of extension services, its main responsibilities have been reduced to technical backstopping and coordination of extension related activities. There is a small unit of consultancy, extension and training within the Department of Agricultural Policies, which has a rather small number of staff. There is no information available on the extent of cooperation and collaboration between the national level unit and the regional and local level extension and advisory institutions.

County Centers for Agricultural Consulting
Each of 41 counties in Romania has a County Center for Agricultural Consulting (OJCA), which is considered as Agricultural Chamber. The OJCAs are administratively and financially under the County Councils, but their technical backstopping and coordination is facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. In April 2012, the number of total county extension staff was 360, with an average of seven to nine staff in each county.

Local Centers for Agricultural Consulting
At local, village or commune level, there are total of 500 Local Centers for Agricultural Consulting (CLCAs), which are also considered as Agricultural Chambers. Each CLCA usually has one staff. The extension consultant to beneficiary farmers ratio, including subsistence level farmers, is 1:4,700. However, the ratio is 1:1,764 when only those farmers being served are registered in the National Farm Registry.

Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences Universities

One of the components of the World Bank-financed project, Modernizing Agricultural Knowledge & Information Systems (MAKIS), mentioned in an earlier section, was “support for advisory and information systems”. Under this component, four Training and Information Centers (TIC) were established in the main regions of Romania. The project has been closed in 2013, but all four TICs, adequately equipped with staff, training and accommodation facilities are still functioning actively. These TICs have been integrated into the system of four universities, which are hosting them, and are addressing training needs of professionals in their respective regions. Post-university certificates and diplomas are awarded to the trainees upon completion of the training. The four universities involved are:

  • The University of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences (USAMV), Bucharest (South Region and part of the South-East Region)
  •  The University of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences (USAMV), Cluj-Napoca (North-West Region and the Central Region)
  • The University of Agricultural Sciences (USA), Banat (West Region, part of the South- West Region, and part of the North-West Region)
  • The University of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences (USAMV), Lasi (North-East Region and part of the South-East Region)

The Romanian Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences “Gheorghe Ionescu-Sisesti”

The Romanian Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences (RAAFS) is the national scientific forum in Romania taking care of public interest in the fields of agriculture, veterinary medicine, food industry, forestry and environmental protection. An autonomous organization, the RAAFS has a network of 18 agricultural research and development institutes and centers, and 52 agricultural research and development stations spread across Romania. One of the objectives of the RAAFS is “extension, consulting and information and technology transfer activities towards agriculture and food industry users.” A Council of Research Beneficiaries has been formed that comprises representatives of farmers, leaders of farmer organizations, and processors of agricultural products. Extension activities include field demonstrations, exhibitions, fairs, competitions, seminars, group discussions, training, projects for farmer organizations and distribution of seed and seedlings of field crops, vegetables, fruit trees, vine, ornamental trees, and animals for reproduction. 

Non-Public Institutions

 Private sector

Private sector comprises farm input supply companies and consulting firms that give fee-based advice to the producers on management, legal and financial matters, and, on meeting with EU requirements for financing and available subsidy benefits for farm investment (50 percent financing by EU and 50 percent by a farm owner), under the EU’s Special Accession Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD). The commercial input suppliers impart technical advice to the farmers while promoting the sale of their products. Most private companies have university graduate staff, and their activities include technical assistance, studies, project formulation, training, research and advisory services in agriculture. The clients for their services are generally trading companies and agricultural associations, with a small number of individual farmers.

 The following are few of the active private companies in Romania:

Non-governmental organizations

The NGO sector in Romania is quite dynamic. A 2004 progress report of the Rural Technology Transfer in Transition Economies in Romania Project indicates the number of NGOs offering consultancy services in rural areas as 730 and their presence in every county. They were offering consultancies in the areas of farmers’ associations, animal breeding, food processing, food industry, arable crops, protection and preservation of forests, soil and water. Presently, a large number of NGOs in Romania are involved in environment, health, education, and community interest services such as youth and culture for which there is little or no provision from the public sector.

Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies

 There are a significant number of farmers-based associations in Romania, many of them being location-specific. Although their activities are in support of their respective members yet there is little information available on their extension and advisory activities. A few examples of farmers’ associations in Romania are as follows:

  • Water Users Associations
  • Farmers’ Association, Bologa
  • Romanian Spotted Breed Association, Panet
  • Farmers’ Association, Topolog
  • Bucovinian Farmers’ Association
  • Poultry and Animal Breeders Association, Rachitova
  • Romanian Goats Breeders Association (CAPRIROM)
  • Wind Farm Association (RWEA)

The first Romanian Cooperative Association was formed in 1895, that is, more than 100 years ago. During the Soviet-era, Romanian farms were operated as government-owned collectives. After the collapse of the communist government, farmland was returned to its original owners, and interestingly, collectives started reappearing, but this time as cooperatives on democratic lines with its members enjoying freedom of decision making. Many cooperatives call themselves as agricultural companies, with members pooling their resources in the larger economic interest, and in pursuit of capital, subsidies and marketing opportunities, which is not possible if their small farms are run as individual enterprise (example: Agricultural Company Cornesti).

The government is encouraging the cooperative movement under the Law of Agriculture and Rural Cooperative Organization adopted in 2004. Bilateral donors like USA and Japan have been providing assistance to strengthen agricultural cooperatives in Romania. There is no specific information available on extension and advisory activities undertaken by the agricultural cooperatives.

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Romania. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.

Training

Training Options for Extension Professionals

There are four Universities of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences, located in the cities of Banat, Cluj-Napoca, Iasi and Bucharest. In addition, a government document indicates the presence of over 1000 agricultural colleges. Pre-service education in extension and relevant disciplines may be pursued at these institutions, many of which have international exchange programs.

In-service training for extension professionals is either readily available or may be arranged by their respective employers at any of the following institutions:

  • Training and Information Centers (TIC) for Agricultural Extension located at four Universities of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences as mentioned in a previous section
  • The Romanian Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences “Gheorghe Ionescu-Sisesti, and its affiliated 17 research and development institutes and centers and 50 agricultural stations located in various parts of Romania

If funds are available, arrangements for in-service training may also be made at the Scottish Agricultural College, which provided training in agricultural extension to agricultural professionals from Romania for two years under the World Bank-financed Agricultural Support Services Project.

ICT

Info-mediaries and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension

Historically, Romania has been a regional leader in information technology. It is documented that the first computer was designed and manufactured in Romania as early as 1957. Also, Romania has been an exporter of hardware and software during the 1990s. According to the World Bank, in 2011, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Romania was 109.15. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 44.02.

Presently, the Ministry of Information and Communication is responsible for ITC policy and development. Donors like the World Bank, European Union, and certain United Nations agencies have been providing assistance to Romania for ICT development and application. In 2003, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was equipped with computer terminals and Internet access. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) sponsored a workshop in 2004 on information and communication systems for agricultural research and rural development in Romania. ICT has been popular in the educational system of Romania for the purposes of distance learning. Apart from the access to the Internet by regional extension staff in some areas, there is not much evidence of the use of ICT in support of agricultural extension and advisory activities.

Resources

Resources and References

Baltac, V. and D. Mihalca (no date). On Romanian Experiences Related to Universities and ICT Industry. Bucharest: The Information Technology and Communication Association of Romania

Chapman, R. and R. Tripp (July 2003). Changing Incentives for Agricultural Extension – A Review of Privatized Extension in Practice. Agricultural Research & Extension Network. Network Paper No. 132

Dincu, A.M., I. Brad, R. Ciolac, R. Gherman, A. Gavruta, and C. Dumitrescu (2013). Perspectives of agricultural cooperatives in Romania. Scientific Papers: Animal Science and Biotechnologies, 2013, 46 (1); Banat’s University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Romania

Dobay, K.M., I.S. Bruma, L. Tanasa, and C. Apetroaie (no date; probably 2010). Increasing community social capital in north-eastern rural Romania. Rural Areas and Development, 7, Vol. 7; Pp. 37-49

European Schoolnet and University of Liege (November 2012). Survey of Schools: ICT in Education; Country Profile: Romania

Eurostat (December 2008). Farm Structure in Romania

FAO Regional Office for Europe (October 2004). ICT needs for improved agriculture in Romania

Florentin, B. and M. Traian (2012). The dynamic of the EU and Romanian agricultural enterprises in the current crisis. Revista Economica 6 (64)/2012, Pp. 6-14

Gavrilescu, C., C. Kleps, and G. Sin (no date; probably 2007). The Agricultural Research in Romania: Recent Developments. PowerPoint presentation

Grama, A. and D. Fotache (2007). ICT and ERP applications challenges in Romanian SMEs. Analele Stiintifice ale Universita, Tomul LIV

Kleps, C. and C. Absher (1997). Information Technologies Used in Extension Services of Some Central and Eastern European Countries and USA. Paper presented at the First Conference for Information Technology in Agriculture, Copenhagen,15-18 June, 1997

Monica, S.M. (2007). Romanian Agricultural Research and Extension Systems and Their Linkages. Paper presented at the FAO Conference on Building Partnerships for Technology Generation, Assessment and Sharing Among West Balkan Countries; Skopje, TFYR of Macedonia, 27 to 29 June 2007

Nicolae-Balan, M. (no date; probably 2002). Some considerations on the impact of the introduction [of] ICT in the educational system. Scientific Bulletin – Economic Sciences, Vol.8 (14)

Pambuccian, V. and C. Biaschoff (no date). Ro; Romania [ICT Profile]

Redman, M. (September 2010). Securing Public Benefits from Subsistence Agriculture in Romania. Tartu, Estonia: Center for Ecological Engineering

Reman, G., M. Vincze, A. Kolcsey, and K. Kerekes (2007). D12-3 Fourth 6-Monthly Report; Rural Technology Transfer in Transition Economies in Romania. AgriPolicy.net

Rowe, J. (April 16, 2012). Matters of Perspective: Tracing Romania’s Agricultural Challenges. Unpublished Bachelor’s Thesis. Brown University

Stefanescu, S.L. (April 2012). Current Status of the Agricultural Advisory and Extension System in Romania

Terunuma, H. (September 30, 2001). For the promotion of agricultural cooperatives in Romania. IDACA News

UNESCO-UNEVOC International Center (no date). Large scale dissemination of basic skills to use ICT (inclusion), Romania: Program overview

Voicu, M., B. Voicu, I. Precupetu, and R. Popescu (2005). Romanian Farms and Farmers Facing the EU Regulations. Iasi, Romania: Editor Expert Projects

World Bank (November 2007). Integrating Environment into Agriculture and Forestry; Progress and Prospects in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Volume II. Romania; Country Review

Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (July 2013)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson