Romanian and Dutch education & business demonstrate collaboration

Agri–Edu Center of Excellence working with Romanian Fruit Research Institute

On March 17, 2022 the Center of Excellence for Agricultural Education Resources and Sustainable Development (AgriEdu), which has recently partnered up with the GroeneTafel powered by GroenPact, organized a large specialised event in cooperation with the Fruit Research Institute of Pitesti-Maracineni (ICDP), with the support of Dutch fruit companies and the Agricultural Department of the Netherlands Embassy in Romania.

Fruit event

Unique fruitful event in Romania

The event, quite unique in Romania, was opened by the ICDP Director General  Mihai Coman and the Agricultural Counsellor of the Dutch Embassy Arie Veldhuizen, and consisted of:

an information session about the Romanian fruit sector, developments and available funds

a research session with the analysis of the results achieved by the Dutch planting material and technologies used on the fruit demo plot developed at the Institute by the member-companies of the former PIB-project known as Holland Fruit House

a practical session in the orchard about tree pruning and orchard maintenance

an inspirational and knowledge exchange session for the agri education sector

200 Participants

The more than 200 participants were fruit growers, producers groups, representatives of the processing sector, consultancy companies and input suppliers, central and local public authorities, teachers, researchers, professors, students from several agricultural high schools and universities. The high turnout and diversity of participants was not only a proof of the importance of the fruit sector in Romania, but also a proof that the famous golden triangle can be very useful and successful in Romania as well!

Fruit Event Speaker 4

Romanian government and budget

The Romanian Ministry of Agriculture was represented by the Director General for Rural Development (which has also the role of Managing Authority for CAP funds) as well as the Head of the agricultural education Office. Rural Development DG Dana Rebega referred to the procedures and funds becoming soon available again for the fruit sector. For 2022 – still a transitional year– more than 130 mln Eur will be available, most likely starting with April. The funds can be used for the setting up or modernization of orchards, storage and processing, as well as harvesting equipment. For the period 2023-2027, there is also a separate allocation for the fruit sector in the CAP National Strategic Plan, of about 150 mln Eur.

Fruit sector developments

Director General Mihai Coman of the Fruit Research Institute presented the institute’s ample work of calculating and revising the standard costs for each fruit species which will be compulsory to use by any entrepreneur who plans to apply for the upcoming EU funds for orchard investments.

The following speaker (researcher) presented an analysis of the research results for each species and variety planted on the demo plot by the former PIB-project members: apple, cherry, blueberry, red currant and plum. In this way, growers could compare their performance and adaptation to local conditions.

Also the Dutch companies present – Verbeek, Fleuren, VGB Watertechniek, GJ van Doorn, Servicii Livadă - had the opportunity to share with the audience the latest developments and trends in their own fields

Fruit event speaker 5

Interaction in the field creates a lot of attention

The companies were able to interact with the audience especially during the practical session on pruning and orchard management. This took place on the Dutch demo plot and got a lot of attention. Also the high school and university students and their professors got acquainted with the Dutch modern way of growing fruit, including orchard design, set up, planting, fertigation, maintenance a.s.o.

Fruit event speaker 7

Green education developments

The second part of the day was devoted to agricultural education. Gheorghe Lacatusu, Head of the office for agri education, research and consultancy within the Ministry of Agriculture (and also “artisan” of the chapter on agri education in Romania’s National Resilience and Recovery Plan) presented the latest news about national and European funds which are addressed to agri high schools – a segment of the education system which has been rather neglected until 2-3 years ago.

He took the opportunity to stress the importance of knowledge sharing and valued highly the past and current cooperation with the Dutch.

Fruit Event speaker 8

Agri Edu Center of Excellence, a strong connection point in Romania

Florentina Nanu, head of the AgriEdu Center of Excellence, introduced this organization to the public, pointing out the existing strategic partnership between the Center and the Dutch Agri Educational institutes. Through this partnership, as well as through the strong connection it has built up with major Romanian agri edu players, the Center represents a two-way gate to green education serving both countries. Then she introduced the two guest speakers from the Netherlands.

Fruit event speaker 9

The Dutch way of teaching students in the field of agriculture and food

First in line was Jan Steverink, chair of the GroenPact Romania-country-table and teacher at Zone College. He provided the audience with extremely interesting information about the Dutch green education sector, the cooperation with the government and the private sector, but also about the cooperation with Romania through the AgriEdu Center of Excellence. He also pointed out the current developments and trends in the green sector, such as focus on sustainability/circularity, climate change, value chain approach, energy transition, as well as those in the edu sector, such as blended learning and 21st century skills. He indicated also possible areas of cooperation between the Netherlands and Romania which could lead to the further development of green education.

A great start of a new episode of the strong Romanian Dutch collaboration

All in all, the day provided a lot of food for thought for all the participants as well as a lot of ingredients for a very promising cooperation at all levels: education, business and government – and especially by the combination of these three.

Fruit event speaker 10

Last but not least, Simon Feersma Hoekstra of MBO Life Sciences gave a very inspirational presentation about how his teaching profession has changed over the years, the factors that influenced it and the importance of linking education to the agri-business sector.

A great start of a new episode of the strong Romanian Dutch collaboration

All in all, the day provided a lot of food for thought for all the participants as well as a lot of ingredients for a very promising cooperation at all levels: education, business and government – and especially by the combination of these three.