Inhabitants of 10 municipalities of West Serbia are trained to enhance cooperation, increase competitiveness and increments by means of association.
Poverty of rural population of Serbia is twice as high as poverty of urban population. The poverty index of rural regions is some 50 percent higher in comparison to the population average.
In order to create better opportunities for a more comfortable life in rural regions, farmers, craftsmen and housewives should master knowledge and skills which shall enable them to make profit and step over the poverty threshold.
The project entitled Program of Capacity Building of Rural Organizations was implemented in ten municipalities of West Serbia (Šabac, Sremska Mitrovica, Bogatić, Vladimirci, Valjevo, Krupanj, Osečina, Kosjerić, Lučani and Čajetina). One of the project goals was to organize associations, cooperatives, informal groups of rural population so that they would modernize and promote their business interests. The project was launched in 2005 and finalized in 2007. It was financed by USAID and implemented by IRD at the territory of West Serbia.
– The goal of the program was to develop professional groups based on entrepreneurship and good governance. We helped members to promote mutual cooperation and thus utilize opportunities provided to registered associations and increase their competitiveness – says Saša Marušić, IRD Expert Associate for Agrobusiness Development.
Professional assistance was provided for fifteen agricultural and women’s organizations, in cooperation with local partners – regional commercial chambers, municipalities and NGOs.
The first program stage included training on the “closer” organization of informal groups. The participants were informed on the status of NGOs, cooperatives, business associations, establishment procedures, business plans, how to approach donors and draft project proposals.
– We hired experts to transfer knowledge on how to build management capacities, adds Marušić.
The second program stage “tested” the knowledge of the newly established groups. IRD opened an internal call for proposals. Four of nine organizations met the set conditions and received grants amounting to between 5,000 and 6,000 EUR.
Eight housewives from Ljig gathered in the Golden Hands women’s organization prepare national food, an authentic product of Serbia. Knowledge gained in the project enabled them to enter fairs and tourist-ethnic manifestations. Associated and empowered, also unemployed, these women have obtained a new means to earn income. They are able to contribute between 100 and 200 euros to their monthly household budget by these occasional activities. Their decision is not to launch industrial, craft production.
The Red Strawberry Association of Lučani, which gathers berry producers, also obtained resources to implement their project. The IRD competition resources were used to procure the machine for managing seedlings.
The Milkman agricultural association of Valjevo continued their work after the project was finalized. They have opened two sales posts. Thirteen associated agricultural producers hired a worker in the cooperative.