Models to follow in rural economy | Dairy industry — EU-LEADER Flagship Initiatives Fund, 2020

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19 August 2021
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Approximately 91% of the total number of dairy cattle are maintained in households and only 9% from these are raised on commercial farms. The data are reflected in the National Programme for Dairy Development for 2019-2025 and show that, at the moment, small farmers who produce in household conditions are the ones who actually ensure dairy production in the Republic of Moldova. The number of the small farmers is decreasing continuously.

Because of the aging population in rural areas, the number of animals held in households are drastically decreasing and, respectively, the amount of milk which is produced is also decreasing. If in 2010 the dairy production was more than 576,4 thousand tons, in 2019 – 308,3 thousand tons, which means with 48% less.

Thus, an obvious fact in the dairy industry is that no one else than small milk producers are the fundamental element that must be supported and developed in this field..
Chiriac family is the perfect example of small dairy producers who due to their enthusiasm, hard work, and ambition of being competitive, managed to become a success story that can inspire many other farmers from this sector.

The cheese laboratory will be the heart of our business and from the heart – we are moving forward”, the Chiriac family says about the small-scale dairy dairy producing â, which received non-reimbursable funding from the EU-LEADER Flagship Initiatives Fund, 2020 edition. Thanks to this support, offered by EU and Polish Aid, the dairy industry from rural areas has a new development perspective.

From a hobby, to an actual business, thanks to the LAG support

Eudochia and Piotr Chiriac launched the small-scale dairy farm three years ago, in the village of Cealic, where they built a family, raised their children, and started to promote opportunities for rural development by their own example. “At the beginning it was a hobby”, Piotr confessed. “I was working abroad and Eudochia was taking care of the house and our children. Our family received a cow as a gift and this is how it started.” After they bought more cows and had milk for a lot of products, Piotr stopped going abroad. He liked to take care of the animals and Eudochia was experimenting with dairy products and was sharing them with the family and friends.  “When they were telling that it was so tasty, we thought to continue experimenting”, she said.

That is how they started having loyal customers for their business. They had a range of various products – butter, traditional cheese, soft cheese, then they experimented with hard cheese. However, for the amount of orders they received there was not enough products. “This is how we called for assistance form the ‘Bugeac Kilim’ LAG for our first project, where small entrepreneurs from rural areas received enormous support”, Piotr added, mentioning that this happened three years ago. Thanks to this, the family bought a self-feeding system, six kilowatt electric generator for balancing electricity when it was missing, and equipment for processing folder-plants.

A pilot initiative, funded for a prosperous future

At the EU-LEADER Flagship Initiatives Fund, 2020 edition, the small-scale dairy farm of Chiriac family manifested itself with a project to acquire a set of efficient and useful technique for their business. From the amount of MDL 267.000, Eudochia and Piotr bought cheese press, milk cooling tank, and a cheese cave with a necessary regime – 85% humidity, with rigorous temperature control, and from their own contribution – tables and space in a form of a new type of a container. “When I wrote the first project, I had only seven dairy cattle, but last year I already had 20. That’s how we solved the problem of where to process the quantities of milk we obtained”, Piotr mentioned. This is the story of the new cheese lab, spacious and cool for creating exceptional products already known in the South of Republic of Moldova, and wanted in other areas of the country. “In this lab we produce five, six cheese wheels per week”, Piotr added, mentioning that three years ago there were only two, three per month.

The greater amount of funding from the EU-LEADER Flagship Initiatives Fund, 2020 edition, contributed to the progress of the local entrepreneurship. Small budgets are very useful, but after a while we understood that we needed more”, Piotr said. Even if the financial support in the program was generous, Chiriac family filed an application form, by indicating the exact necessities identified at that moment and the amount of money they needed then.

The future of the cheese laboratory

Eudochia is passionately talking about the lab as the heart of their business, mentioned that thanks to this project, small entrepreneurs as her family, can reach new goals. “Thanks to the Flagship Initiatives Fund, we implemented a project of producing the milk, but now we think about a new project of preserving the cheese longer, increasing the process of its ripening”, Piotr mentioned. Chiriac family is planning to have a cheese tasting room for all the interested people to visit the South of the Republic of Moldova that want to return home with different dairy products that are made with love -anyone who wants to, will taste from the variety of the created cheeses, including from Eudochia’s own recipes, and will participate at workshops to create their own cheese.

When I am in the process of preparing the cheese, sometimes I sing, talk to it, as it would be my child”, tells Eudochia, enthusiastic about the process. “It is full of live bacteria and it matures for a long time”, she added, telling that a lot of other manufacturers that she knows, are acting as a parent to their products – you have to give love, a part of your soul, your mood. “There are also manufacturers that are listening to jazz in the process. We also listen some music, sometimes we dance”, she said.

When you have support, it means that people believe in you

In the village of Cealic, part of the “Bugeak Kilim” LAG and ATU Gagauzia, there were implemented a lot of social and entrepreneurial projects through initiatives that support rural development: “In every village, if someone implements a project with the help of other initiatives and people apply for them, everything else will work as self-advertising.

Piotr mentioned that small entrepreneurs are like small enterprises and need support. “Small entrepreneurs struggle a lot when developing – they do not have enough financial support, nor enough experience”, he mentioned, by adding that all these programs stimulate a good star for them: “If the financial support from the LAG did not exist three years ago, we would have not started our business. What we have today,  – the equipment we have got and the ideas we develop, – is thanks to that support.” Piotr mentioned that this kind of initiatives for small farms in every field – apiculture, agriculture, diary, is a big step. “Moreover, we have an ecological product, that is made from a natural product”, he said. From his point of view, this kind of projects inspire people: “This is a plus for our country, less people will migrate abroad – they will stay home and work here. From my experience I can say that yes, every project is like a breath of fresh air for the farmers and after that they are unstoppable.

Little by little, we  also inspire our children”, Eudochia mentioned. “It feels nice when your child observes you when you’re working and says that he also wants to do that when he grows up. You understand that the family business will continue to develop”, she added.

Even if at the beginning they were sceptical, the Chiriac family says that with their own example they proved that financial help functions in the favour of the small farmer: “We do get financial help, but also pieces of advice for every step of the process of implementation, how to use in a correct way this financial aid, to be able to get, in the end, the best result.” Chiriac family shares their experience every time when they have the opportunity, by showing that they did it all thanks to the support and faith they had, and now the cheese lab has all the necessary equipment and some other big plans for the future. “It takes the desire and ideas to start doing something, but also someone to believe in you”, Piotr mentioned. “It is important to write correctly what you desire and the success is assured.

Our advice is not to be afraid, and also to participate at this project, because it will be a good support for every business”, Eudochia says. Piotr also added that from his point of view, all funds need to continue their mission, they do not need to stop, because thanks to these, things are changing and also everyone can do everything they like and be unique in their field. “And maybe this is how the country will bloom. This is the most important. And we will bloom with our dreams and you support”, Eudochia finally confessed

The project is implemented within the EU—LEADER Flagship Initiatives Fund 2020, of the “LEADER approach for rural prosperity in Moldova” project, financed by the European Union and Polish Aid, managed by Solidarity Fund PL in Moldova and National LEADER Network in the Republic of Moldova. Strategic partner — the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment.


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