On June 23-24 New Eurasia Foundation held two-day study tour entitled “My Agricultural Business: Success Stories and the Best Practices”. The study tour included meetings with farmers and entrepreneurs, farmstead and private land plot owners, members of CSOs and local cooperatives in Minsk and Grodno oblasts. 22 rural dwellers - representatives of CSOs, local authorities and informal initiative groups, entrepreneurs and persons in search for additional income - took part in the study tour.
Study tour began on the farm “Dak” located in a green area in Dzerzhinsk district. The farm has 100 hectares of land, 800 of goats of zaanenskaya breed with a farm for animal keeping, modern milking equipment, department for milk processing with cheese making shop, and Goats’ museum. The farm grows its own fodder without using herbicides, pesticides, and mineral fertilizers and has a certificate of the International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS).
Later participants visited the farm entitled “Ecoflora” which grows over a hundred kinds and breeds of annual flowers and has its own arboretum with ornamental conifers. Seeds and grafts the farm buys directly from the world-wide selectionists from Poland, Germany, USA, and Netherlands, thus gradually expanding own partnerships and offer.
Afterwards study tour participants made the acquaintance with the farmstead “Kony-Pony”, which offers a wide variety of coach tours, fests for children with ponies, photoshoots in carriagies, etc. The farmstead has its own zoo with baby-ponies, goatlings, lambs, rabbits and birds.
The participants were impressed by the farm “Vermy Ecoproduct” which was the first farm in Belarus to undergo certification according to the European Union standards. 20 hectares of land are used to grow ecologically clean production, including berries, vegetables, greens and other crops. Production process doesn’t utilize mineral fertilizers, weed and pest killers. Vermy Ecoproduct won the first place in the national competition “Sustainable Farm”.
Introduction to the principles of ecological farming continued at the Belarusian-German Joint Limited Liability Company “Children's Recreation & Rehabilitation Center “Nadeshda”. To grow its production Nadeshda uses two crop rotations totaling 18,2 hectares: in the center in grows vegetables and greens, fruit trees and bushes.
At the end of the study tour articipants discussed the issues of agricultural production distribution at the dedicated round table in Minsk with participation of founders of the farm and organic production shop “Tuk-Tuk. Latuk!”. The shop sells natural and eco clean production of Belarusian farmers. The participants learned about the “Tuk-Tuk. Latuk!” shop and what it takes to sell agricultural produce at the shop.
Two days of the study tour introduced rural dwellers to the best practices of ecological and organic farming and distribution, growing and sales of flowers and grafts, production of milk and dairy products, production and distribution of goods and services through the consumers’ cooperative, delivering agrotouristic and associated services, and allowed to get in contact with the best practitioners in the abovementioned fields.
Eduard Kohovets, entrepreneur and craftsman from the settlement of patrimonies “Rosy” (Petrusovshchyna village in Volozhyn district) shares his impressions about the study tour “Most of all I liked the technique of soil restoration presented by the farmer Igor Chvashtchevsky and the meeting with the owners of “Tuk-Tuk. Latuk!” shop. [After the study tour – author’s note] I visited Igor Chvashtchevsky’s seminar and studied the issues of restoring soil fertility in detail. I plan to share my findings at the next meeting of the members of “Rosy” settlement. I will try to expand the area of cultivated land in my private land plot and sell the produce through the “Tuk-Tuk. Latuk!” shop”.
Ivan Sivuda, bee-keeper from Kemenets town of Brest oblast says: “I was happy to establish contacts with so many people holding the same views as I do, make new friends and meet pioneers of ecological farming. The issue of healthy eating is getting more and more acute. Europe for years uses dietary nutrition for the benefit of public health, which requires clean and healthy products. We were demonstrated that production [of clean products] enjoys support, and there are channels to sell these produce”.
The skills and knowledge acquired within the study tour will help rural dwellers to start own agricultural business or expand existing ones, apply new approaches and tools to doing agricultural business or managing own land plots which will lead to increase in efficiency and income in agriculture and application of eco-friendly techniques.
Expanding Economic Opportunities in Rural Belarus Project is financed by the European Union and co-financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).