The COOPNET 3.0 project is the continuation of the activity carried out over the past 10 years by the consortium consisting of the Romanian Center for European Policies (CRPE), the Civitas Foundation for Civil Society Cluj (Civitas), and the Community Mediation and Safety Center (CMSC), financially supported by the Romanian-American Foundation.

The vision of this consortium is to create an ecosystem of agricultural cooperatives that supports the collaboration between farmers and a consolidated agri-food sector, which will be an integral part alongside other rural development stakeholders in Romania.

The Evolution of Agricultural Cooperatives in Romania

Over the past 10 years, there has been a change in the perception of cooperatives in Romania. We have witnessed a greater interest from farmers in forming associations, as well as increased support from authorities for their activities. During this period, the number of cooperatives and their impact on the economy has steadily increased. However, despite all these positive trends, we observe certain discrepancies in the following areas:

  1. Challenges in forming a support ecosystem for cooperatives and the lack of specific materials tailored to cooperatives.
  2. Weak public representation of the sector’s interests, making it difficult to initiate or sustain collective actions by cooperatives.
  3. Many cooperatives (which are essentially newly established enterprises) struggle to become sustainable.

What does the COOPNET project propose?

The COOPNET 3.0 project is part of a larger, more comprehensive program that has been implemented since 2012 and has gone through various phases of development over time. Through what has been done so far in this program, there has been an impact on public policies, ongoing engagement with decision-makers, the creation, piloting, and expansion of an intervention model for cooperative formation, professional training provided to cooperative facilitators and leaders, facilitating communication among, about, and with cooperatives, and overall, strengthening the agricultural sector. Additionally, a research report on the evolution of the agricultural cooperative sector has been published as part of this project, which can be read here.

Over the next 3 years, the project aims to consolidate the agricultural cooperative sector in Romania through representation, training, and networking activities, including:

  1. Representing the interests of cooperatives in relations with various stakeholders.
  2. Professionalizing the agricultural cooperative sector.
  3. Promoting a more structured sector of agricultural cooperatives.

CRPE will contribute to these objectives through research and advocacy activities, including:

  • Secondary analysis of existing data on agricultural cooperatives.
  • Opinion surveys among newly established cooperatives.
  • An evaluation study of the National Rural Development Program (PNDR) 2014-2020 from the perspective of agricultural associations.
  • A study on the role of national and local/regional policies in the development of farmer associations and agricultural cooperatives, with a comparative perspective to other EU countries.
  • Organizing events for disseminating research results.

Implementation Period: 2023-2026.