The agriculture and forestry represent the backbone of rural regions, especially in the prevailing agricultural and respectively, the mountain areas. Although significant changes have occurred recently in the role and functions of agriculture, this sector remains the main component of any strategy or programme for rural development. However, after Romania’s EU accession, the development of agriculture knew some problems generally related to the compatibility and convergence of the Romanian agriculture with that of the EU members states, which leads to the idea of changing the center of gravity from the production to the multifunctional character.
As outlined by the strategic studies, the EU Accession Agreement and the National Programme for Rural Development, Romania needs a multifunctional and competitive agriculture which needs to be compatible and complementary to the agriculture of the other EU member states.
The new aspects of the agriculture and rural development strategy are based on the concept of sustainable rural development which implies an intelligent and renewable use of the Romanian natural (natural assets) agricultural resources and a harmony between the agricultural (and forestry) component and the non-agricultural rural economy following the principles:
- a synergy between the rural economy and the environment (economy – ecology equilibrium);
- the sustainable development programmes must take into account medium and long term targets;
- the naturalization (re-naturalization) of rural area by preserving the natural environment mostly intact;
- the anthropized environment, made by the man, must be as close as possible to the natural environment;
- the intelligent use of local natural resources, of the agriculture natural capital which is extremely present in Romania, especially the renewable resources, in the rural economic activity;
- a sustainable agro-allied production;
- the diversification of the agricultural economy structure through pluriactivity, mainly by the development of the agri-food and non-agricultural economies and rural services.
The fundamental features of the new aspects of the rural development strategy are based on the principles described by the European Rural Charter: Europe’s countryside is a historical and precious cultivated landscape in which people live and work and whose maintenance is an important social issue, yet is also of economic value. The countryside can only fulfil its role of supplier and source of recreation and equilibrium, as increasingly demanded by society, if it remains an attractive and self-reliant place to live, with
- a good infrastructure;
- viable farming, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries sectors;
- convenient accessibility for non-agricultural economic activities;
- a healthy environment and a well-tended landscape: an agreeable place to live.
The analysis of the present agricultural structures (with their underperformances), of the rural economy with a predominantly primary character and of the consumption of alimentary resources by the rural population, shows that the Romanian village is characterized by a high poverty rate (over 45%, compared to 15–18% in the urban area). The severe level of poverty having a tendency to become chronic, makes the rural economy shift towards the natural subsistence economy and get isolated from the market economy.
Therefore, the solutions for a sustainable rural development should integrate concrete technical, juridical and financial elements in order to stimulate a complex and sustainable development. The village economy should no longer be a closed natural economy, it should be inserted into the business environment, and it should gradually shift from a subsistence economy to a competitive, commercial economy.
The quality of the Romanian agricultural area represents the natural and ecological premise for the competitiveness of our products. The basic agricultural products (wheat, maize, sunflower, soybean, vegetables, fruit, meat, milk, etc.) obtained in medium technical conditions, are completely competitive with similar products from other countries, while the quality of the majority of assortments provided by the soil and weather factors to many Romanian agricultural products, may be even higher.
The strategy for rural development aims to offer viable and sustainable solutions to be implemented on medium and long term, based on scientific evidence.