Agricultural Advisory in Romania. Evolution and Public Policy Recommendations

CRPE Policy Memo no. 75Author: Alexandra Toderiță, Contributor: Cătălina Meiroșu

The farmers’ need of gaining access to agricultural advisory services appears in the context in which, in order to do their job successfully, they need not only specific knowledge to the agricultural field – for instance, the diagnosis and fight against diseases or pests, but also competences related to business management, such as the preparation of a feasibility study for obtaining a credit.

As such, the agricultural advisory services represent a vital element in the informational and technological transfer in agriculture, offering the farmers information which may contribute to improving their standards of living and the rural population’s as well. In Romania, the agricultural advisory services were established during the post-communist period and, since then, the system has passed through countless stages of reform.

First of all, this study aims to make a radiography of the agricultural advisory system in Romania, starting from the most important legislative changes in its evolution after 1989 to its current organizational structure. At the moment, the agricultural advisory system in Romania is composed of the public system – advisory office within the 41 county departments for agriculture (coordinated technically and methodologically by MARD), 280 communal centers for technical assistance in the city halls and, also, 14 private Agricultural Chambers, belonging to the farmers, in 14 counties (which are not, however, functional in practice, according to the interviewed experts in the study).

Apart from the public and private entities, there are also the institutes for agricultural research, with qualified personnel, specialized according to the prevailing research domain at the level of the institutes. In this case, the advisory and extension activity unfolds by means of grants and research projects. At the same time, the study pursues a brief analysis of the models developed by other states in the field of agricultural advisory, models which are relevant for outlining some public policy proposals for the period that will follow.

Our conclusions show that, in Romania, the (re)construction of a functional and performing agricultural advisory system represents an urgent matter, not only from the perspective of the farmers’ needs for development, but also given Romania’s access itself to the future agricultural post-2020 funds.

Also, assessments of the farmers’ needs as for the agricultural advisory services are necessary – not only from the point of view of the advisory’s content – information, training needs -, but also the preferred sources – what entities they contact, trust and so on. Moreover, advisory has to be accessible to the grassroots and in the physical proximity of the farmer. In Romania, there are 2686 villages and only 450 Centers for Local Agricultural Advisory (which are often represented by a sole agronomist engineers from the city hall). The problem of the human resources in agricultural advisory must not be ignored anymore: nowadays, an agricultural consultant working in the public system serves 12000 – 13000 farmers signed up on the APIA lists. The experience of the European countries shows that an optimal proportion would be equal to one consultant for 65 – 100 farmers.

The report also presents two important ideas which deserve to be exploited, in terms of enriching the institutional architecture of the agricultural advisory in Romania.

  1. i) Supporting the Local Action Groups in this domain, through the LEADER axis, for them to integrate and develop infrastructure for agricultural advisory, in the framework of the future post-2020 CAP;
  2. ii) Developing the agricultural high schools as local advisory hubs, given that there are premises for these educational institutions to be re-valued and developed, towards the transformation of a resource center not only for the future farmers, but also for the adults working in agriculture.

Full report, in English, is available here.