(AUREA 2019 AWARD NOMINATION): Delta Holding - Nase Selo project
In November 2018, Delta Holding launched a project called Nase Selo (Our Village). The main goal of this project is to incite the development of agriculture in undeveloped areas, but also to revitalize rural areas in Serbia.
When the idea occurred, two villages that needed help were to be picked. After visiting a large number of Serbian villages and talking to representatives of local communities, the company chose Dubocane and Mala Jasikova in the Zajecar area, as a large number of families whose primary activity is farming production still live in them. Most of the farms in these villages are dairy cattle, sheep and fruit farms.
Delta will help the residents of the two picked villages considerably raise the level of farming production, as well as the social and cultural life in their places, to the level of villages in developed parts of Europe. Delta Agrar experts will advise farmers about fruit protection and growing, selecting fruit varieties and animal races and their proper rearing, as well as other activities which the success of agricultural production depends on. In order to make the project sustainable, Delta will guarantee the buyout of the goods produced, as sales have been one of the biggest problems for producers in this area. Furthermore, Delta offers help in investing in cooperation with Erste Bank through the financing of the interest rate of the credit.
As a farming production leader and a company which invests a lot in the education of its employees, Delta Holding wants to transfer this knowledge to the rural populace in Serbia through the Nase Selo project. In line with this, numerous workshops and lectures about fruit and livestock farming are organized in these villages, as these two branches are the primary activities the residents in these two villages are involved in.
In line with the interest of the residents of the villages, Delta also organizes lectures by external experts. So far lectures have been held about cooperatives, IPARD funds, regulations of the production of animal meat products and local and state farming subsidies.
Delta offers all household that have applied a guaranteed buyout of all agricultural products. This is not binding, but if the residents find it impossible to sell their products, Delta Holding will buy them out at market prices.
This is the first project of its kind in Serbia, the region and Europe. Delta Holding doesn’t intend to protect the project. Quite the contrary, the company want this project to start a chain reaction and serve as an example of good practice and encouragement to other companies or organizations to try something similar in other parts of the state, in order for the development to be even greater.
The Nase Selo project is carried out in partnership with Erste Bank and the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia and with full support of the City of Zajecar.
(Photo: lOvE lOvE/shutterstock.com)
Nase Selo is a new project of Delta Holding through which the company wants to incite the development of agriculture in undeveloped areas and the revitalization of rural areas in Serbia. The project is unique not just in Serbia but in the region as well. This is the first time that a private company invests in the community this way, fully engaging its capacities in order to revitalize rural areas.
The innovativeness of the project is also reflected in its intention to have every aspect of village life improve – from implementing modern agri-technical measures in agricultural production, through adapting and building functional facilities in rural areas, to enriching private and social life.
Also, the project is based on the transfer of knowledge, which is crucial to the further progress and which contributes to the sustainability of the project. Delta Holding believes that knowledge is the most important resource for a sustainable development of a company. It therefore provides its employees with education in the world’s most developed countries. The company wants to transfer this knowledge further, to the populace in rural areas in Serbia. In line with this, from the very beginning of the project, education is organized in villages in various fields of key importance for the upgrade of fruit and livestock farming, the primary activities in these villages. This is the first time that a company is looking to transfer its knowledge of agriculture to the populace of rural areas to which it would be unavailable otherwise.
Furthermore, the residents have had the opportunity of visiting Delta’s properties Podunavlje, in Celarevo, the largest and most modern orchard in the region, where they had the opportunity to see the ULO cooling plant, which preserves fruit for up to 300 days without any additives, as well as a cow farm in Stara Pazova, and learn first-hand what they need to improve on their own properties in order to achieve the best results possible. In addition to educating the residents, the project also entails help in investing through the financing of the credits’ interest rates and a guaranteed buyout of the products.
The Delta Foundation will reconstruct the elementary schools in both villages and build parks, children’s playgrounds, community centers and other facilities, in line with the residents’ needs and wishes, so as to stimulate a more active social life. Cultural events, such as plays, exhibitions or sports events, are also planned.
(Photo: Willyam Bradberry/shutterstock.com)
The long-term goal of this project is to prevent people, especially young people, from leaving these two villages. Perhaps the biggest threat to the survival of these communities is that young people are leaving for larger cities or abroad in search of a brighter future.
According to the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1,200 villages in Serbia are on the verge of disappearing. Delta Holding hopes that, by improving the living conditions and strengthening the residents through education and help in the modernization of farming processes, it will prove that one can live in a Serbian village just as well as in a village in Switzerland or Slovenia and that no one will need to leave their village any more due to the hard living conditions, whereas some that have already left might even return.
Another important aspect of this project is the creation of new jobs and the reduction of the unemployment rate. As the farming production increases, it is expected that more people will be needed (hiring new workers, seasonal workers etc.).
Also, Delta Holding is trying to support female entrepreneurship, encouraging women who live in these two villages to start their own businesses through associations or cooperatives and become active in the secondary production. Delta will be there to direct them professionally and help them sell their products, as this is one of the main problems for the residents of these two villages.
In addition to making the residents stronger economically, the plan is to also reconstruct roads and facilities in these villages so as to make them fully suitable for living. Crucial institutions, such as schools, cultural centers and outpatient clinics, will be reconstructed through donations.
One of the main goals is to also strengthen social communities in these villages. This can be achieved through a richer social life, the fostering of rural traditions and customs and the stimulation of the sense of unity through common activities, such as volunteering or joint operations through cooperatives and associations. The residents will receive help in organizing cultural events for the whole village, such as holiday celebrations, which everyone can take part in.
In line with the modernization of agriculture under Delta Agrar’s guidance, the residents will implement the principles of modern farming, learning how to save natural resources, such as water and energy. They will also learn how to sort and treat hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
Although still at an early stage, this project already indicated the possibility of including and expanding to other villages in the area and then, hopefully, in the entire Serbia later on. The plan is for these two villages to reach the level of modern European villages and become examples of successful village communities through the efforts of Delta and its partners, as well as the hard work of the residents of Dubocane and Mala Jasikova.
Nase Selo is a non-commercial project which is sustainable in the long term. What makes it different from other projects is that it is primarily based on the transfer of knowledge. Delta has decided to focus on stimulating the development of agriculture, precisely because it is its core business and because it has the largest number of experts in this field, who can contribute to development by offering advice in the fields of protection, cultivation and selection of fruit varieties and animal races and their proper breeding, as well as all other operation on which the success of agricultural production depends.
Agricultural processes in Dubocane and Mala Jasikova are carried out in a very old-fashioned way, which results in lower yields than they could potentially produce. Educating the residents about the modern ways of farming production will result in the improvement of production and an increase in the income and the profit.
Each household involved in the project will therefore realize a greater long-term income. By raising the level of the production, the residents will become capable of finding a place in the market themselves in order to raise the standard of living for their families and the entire village. Also, Delta Agrar will always be there to offer a buyout or help with the sale of goods. The company will thereby be able to cooperate with producers who offer goods of controlled quality.
The Delta Agrar team is already working on educating the residents and ameliorating the damage done to the orchards due to the presence of pests and wild animals, and the first increase in yields is expected this autumn. With this kind of agrarian production, the entire economy of Serbia could become stronger, not just through an increase in the income, but also through the reduction of the unemployment rate among the rural populace. Delta hopes that Dubocane and Mala Jasikova are just the first two villages to go this way, trying to reach the standards of developed European villages.
If the Nase Selo project is your investment of the year favorite, you can vote for it on Aurea's official website