A Good Start of the Week

It is only Wednesday and the week has already been very interesting and productive. Monday, we officially launched the World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development here in the office. (For you who are not in the development sector, the WDR is an annual report that brings up different themes that are important for development. Previous years have shed lights on topics such as youth, the role of the private sector, urbanization, etc.) After a few months of begging, the main author Mr. Derek Byerlee gave in and decided to come and present the report here in Moldova as one of his last presentations before he retires. Our agricultural sector coordinator in DC took this opportunity to make his first visit to Moldova. 

The turnout to the event was great and we were especially pleased that the Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry, Mr. Gorodenco, and his Deputy Minister, Mr. Perju, came to the event. In addition to them, there were also representatives from other ministries, from the civil society, the private sector, and other donors. The presentation was very interesting and there were some good comments made afterwards. Above all, I hope that the participants got something out of the event and that it will add some new perspectives to the agricultural agenda here in Moldova.

Yesterday, our two visitors and I went out in the country side to meet farmers and see some of the activities that are going on here through various initiatives. It was a beautiful day – sunny and warm (yes, hopefully no more hail storms this year!). The trip had been arranged by a project implementation organization together with the main provider of extension services here in Moldova (ACSA). In addition to a number of farmers, we also met few ACSA consultants that work with advising farmers in production techniques and marketing. I have to admit that I learn quite a lot about production methods during these trips.

One of the best things about my job is all the interesting people I get to meet. This time, I was particularly impressed by two former migrants who had decided to come back and invest their hard-earned money from abroad in agro-businesses. One of them had been working in the construction industry in Ireland for four years together with his sons. The sons were still there for yet another year, while he had gone back to Moldova and bought some land and a tractor and started a business. One of his main crop was melons and he had introduced some new sawing techniques that other farmers in the village now used. His sons would join him in the fall.

The other farmer can’t have been more than 25 years old but had already lived in Greece for seven years, also he working in the construction industry. He had taken his money and used it together with a matching grant from the World Bank financed project to invest in several hundred sheep for cheese production. His facilities were extremely simple, with no electricity and without any equipment, and the walls and roof barely providing shelter in rainy weather, but he was now in the process of applying for new credit from another project to purchase process equipment for packaging. He promised dill cheese next time we came as that was his new business idea. I asked him why he decided to come back to Moldova after so long time in Greece, and he answered that though he loved Greece and life there in many ways had been easier, he always felt like a foreigner in the eyes of the locals. He though that it would never fully be his home and so he decided to go back to Moldova to life there another chance. It is sad that we in the EU are not better at making newcomers feel at home in the way that people here have made me feel at home here (not the least because we ourselves are the ones who will loose on it), but I am glad for Moldova that such ambitious people decide to come back and invest in the country. I am sure he will succeed!

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