First prize for the best practice in rural development initiative in Banat supported through STRD-funded project!
After successfully obtaining a grant from the ‘Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development’ (STRD) UN programme in 2010 and establishing a multi-sector partnership to implement a value market chain to link protection of natural and cultural heritage, the traditions of local agriculture communities with traditional processing and marketing in tourism, the award – from a jury consisting of representatives of the PREPARE, the Pan-European ‘Partnership for Rural Europe’ network and representatives from the Ministry of agriculture, trade, forestry and water management and National rural development network of Serbia – came not only as a recognition of their hard work, but also as a confirmation that rural tourism development in Serbia is on the right track.
The PREPARE international gathering (http://www.preparenetwork.org/) is the main annual event of the Pan-European PREPARE network, organized each year in a different country and region. In 2011, more than 150 participants from about 20 European countries gathered in Zlatibor, Serbia, where the national rural development network of Serbia was the host of the event, providing an opportunity to exchange experiences from across Europe, discover Serbia's rural life and contribute to an integrated and sustainable development of rural areas.
The success of the partnership in South Banat on the Danube and their project ‘Scent and taste of Banat wine and cheese”, recognized as the best rural development practice, is a proof how much one can achieve with a small financial contribution to activities in rural development, especially with the establishment of local partnerships in the agriculture-tourism value chain. This experience confirms that no matter how rural development paradigm is new for Serbia, there is a variety of valuable examples of best practices in rural development and these have to be shared Europe-wide to be recognized as a contribution to the development of EU CAP, which in future, Serbia intends to implement and follow, said Dr. Suzana Djordjevic-Milosevic, Rural Development Programme Officer with the STRD UN joint programme, which – in 2010 – provided USD 160 000 to 6 projects to diversify the rural economy in Serbia.
One of the topics – the future of the European rural area – was addressed at the gathering through the lectures by key note speakers and professors Emil Erjavc and Suzana Djordjevic-Milosevic. The discussions that ensued confirmed that the STRD UN joint programme is indeed making a valuable contribution to the diversification of the rural economy through rural tourism development.
The PREPARE gathering attracted VIPs, including Mr. Marius Lazdinis from EU DG Agri European Commission, representatives from 20 EU countries and the delegates from the office of H.E.Bozidar Djelic, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Serbia, and Ministry of Agriculture. Dr. Suzana Djordjevic-Milosevic concluded: ‘The success so far confirms that sustainable tourism development in rural areas, which our UN programme supports, is an important linking element between agriculture, sustainable management of natural resources and rural communities’ development. It strengthens STRD team’s efforts to work with renewed impetus with the national implementing partners as much as local stakeholders to introduce measures of support to rural economy diversification in the national development policy’.
About the annual national contest on best practices in rural development
The national contest on best practices in rural development is organized every year by the National rural development network of Serbia and results disseminated within the national network and EU wide. The goal of the national contest for the best practices in rural development is to enable the exchange of experiences within the network for rural development and thus contribute to better and more efficient work in the provision of quality services to residents of rural areas of Serbia.The jury evaluates the quality of activities and level of their compatibility with identified problems as much as results achieved, lessons learned, replicability and sustainability of activities.
About the Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development Joint Programme
The UN Joint Programme Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development works towards the diversification of the rural economy through sustainable tourism to improve the quality of life, reduce poverty, and address environmental degradation in rural Serbia. One of the key activities of the programme is the development of the National Rural Tourism Master Plan. Activities of the Programme are implemented in South Banat on the Danube, East Serbia, Central Serbia and Lower Danube.
Five UN agencies, including UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) in cooperation with a number of Government of the Republic of Serbia national partners, namely the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, and the National Tourism Organization of Serbia are implementing the Joint Programme.
The Spanish Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) is providing 4 million USD for the implementation of the Joint Programme.
 The Common Agricultural Policy ( CAP) is a system of European Union agricultural subsidies and programmes.