“Sustainable Agriculture Models In the Romanian Mountain Area”

The context of the project

According to the National Rural development Program (NRDP) more than 70% of poor people are located in rural areas.


Lack of real economic prospects leads to the migration of labor and reduces the chances of developing the rural areas of Romania.


Sheep are traditionally the most important animals in highland agriculture in the Carpathian Mountains.


The traditional production system is built around the sheepfold, which is used to shelter sheep, milk processing unit and home to shepherds.


The Romanian sheepfold is a rudimentary construction made ​​of wooden beams on a high stone foundation. It is divided in two parts:


  • In the north is the room for storage and aging traditional cheese called „cas”
  • The second room is larger and serves as home for shepherds and visitors. Common sheepfolds have no electricity, running water or roof, cheese and food are processed on an open fire.


With the accession to the European Union, Romania must process the milk in conformity with EU requirements. Most of the approximately 10,000 Romanian sheepfolds, do not comply with the sanitary veterinary requirements. The quantity of processed milk in an average size sheepfold is furthermore insufficient to justify a long-term economic profit and shepherds do not achieve professional profit on dairy processing or product marketing.


Poor quality of products and lack of know-how


Limited opportunities for marketing, low prices, low income opportunities


Traditional cheese produced in sheepfolds do not respect hygiene standards that would allow their sale on the market, 30 % of dairy products are used for family consumption and the rest is sold directly or through local traders in the local market or over roads, outside taxation and health standards in the field, at modest prices .


Lack of staff and management of pastures


Informal structures


A modernization of the procedures is imperative necessary to get a new image more competitive (accountability, billing, income, taxation, possibly VAT ), by strengthen the farmers’ association, increase negotiation power, labeling, increased attractively on credit market, better marketing opportunities.



Executive summary


In the Romanian Highlands the traditional pasture management system is threatened by several factors:

Low quality of products and lack of know how: Most of the approximately 10,000 Romanian sheepfolds are not conform to DSVSA (Romanian Directorate for Sanitary Veterinary & Food Safety) and EU requirements (good lighting, adequate supply of drinking water, washable walls). At the same time sheepfold masters and shepherds are often not at the height of professional dairy production and marketing. The above mentioned elements lead to the fact, that the vast majority of cheese produced in traditional sheepfolds does not meet the hygiene standards which would allow selling it in the organized market.


Lack of personnel and maintenance of pasture: The rural areas are suffering of a high migration rate. The migrated labour forces are missing in the sheep milk production as well as in the pasture maintenance system. The result is an advancing degradation of mountain pastures.


Informal structures: Many of the small scale farmers produce on an informal basis out of the fiscal regulations. A modernisation necessary in order to strengthen associations, increasing negotiation power, la-belling, increased attractivity on the credit market, better marketing opportunities would imply a formalization and a change in working style (accountability, billing, taxation).


This project searches – in its three years project implementation - to improve the sustainability of livestock based agriculture in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains by means of integrating traditional activities in the modern economic system. The approach to achieve this goal will be implemented in six test areas in the north eastern part of Romania and implies the following steps:


  • The production factors such as animal nutrition, animal sheltering and the cheese making facilities of the traditional production system are strengthened.
  • The market opportunities of traditional products are improved. Through the accurate recording of every step, quality standard of milk, technical chart of production, logistic chart, branding, labeling, packaging, usage of EAN bar-code system, health control and traceability system the products will comply with the legal food and health requirements and qualify for the modern retail. Furthermore, through targeted marketing activities the products will access new markets.
  • The competences of producers to diversify and modernize their production are improved. The main means to achieve the objective is through provision of the development of curriculas and provision of training for shepherds and sheepfoldmasters in order to develop their knowledge and skills and getting acquainted with new production facilities (esp. new sheepfolds). In addition members of farmer’s organisations receive training to improve and strengthen their organisation, achieve registration and flatten the way towards formaliza-tion.


The partnership includes the Swiss Centre of Mountain Regions (SAB), that is the lead agency in the Swiss-Romanian project, the Romanian lead partner FAMD (Mountain farmers association Dorna) as well as the Romanian NGO’s HEIFER, AGROM-RO and ROMONTANA.

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