Royal lobby for the Romanian family farm

In the midst of preparations for the countries’ new Rural Development Program (NRDP), the Romanian ministry for agriculture has to satisfy a rather royal request. Prince Charles it seems has a soft spot for the Romanian countryside. The Prince of Wales not only visited Romania regularily for the last seven years, but also invested in rural development and has filled the role of an ambassador for small-scale, sustainable family farming. So what has he been doing, and why?

photo by Gavrila Stetco

Though the authorities promote a simplified vision over the new NRDP for the 2014-2020 period, it seems the Prince successfully advocated for the introduction of a new subprogram for highland areas.

We have an important task. We have received a request from Prince Charles to set up a subprogram for highland areas, which would mean extra measures. Our intention was to create separate measures so that we would not need any subprograms. We will analyze what can be done”, declared secretary of the state Achim Irimescu.

Romania will receive 7,14 billion Euro from European funds in the 2014-2020 interval. The difference is, that unlike in other years, the new CAP permits the Government to decide what the money will support. Throughout the consultations, the authorities received proposals and observations from several actors. Thus, one recommendation came from the British Royal Family.

Prince Charles is the patron of the Mihai Eminescu Trust, “which is dedicated to the conservation and regeneration of villages and communes in Transylvania and the Maramures, two of the most unspoiled regions of Europe”. Through the trust, the Prince acquired various properties from the highland areas, which were renovated according to the traditionalism of the regions. Rural tourism started to bloom. The “princes’ villages” received more than 10 thousand tourists. Prince Charles also lobbied for the development of roads and sewage systems. Public authorities ended up investing almost 1 million Euro in rural development just in 2013.

His Royal Highness pushed forward. The trust established small local businesses, processing elderberries and now it started to put the base of the first nursery of traditional fruit trees.

While some regions of Transylvania got lucky to be represented by royalties authorities should not need special requests to act: the needs and emergencies of the countryside should cause action. Not every rural region has a prince but one thing is certain, Romania has almost 5 million peasants, inhabiting unique countrysides from the highlands to the seaside.

Attila Szocs
About Attila Szocs 15 Articles
Attila Szocs is based in Romania. He works with Eco Ruralis, a grassroots peasants association. Eco Ruralis is a member of Via Campesina, currently made up of 500 members from all regions of Romania, who practice organic and traditional farming based on environmentally conscious principles. Urban and rural gardeners as well as conscious consumers are also involved.