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Setting up and implementation of sustainable and multifunctional rural development model based on organic and competitive agriculture (SIMOCA)
Start date: Dec 31, 2002, End date: Mar 30, 2006 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Consumers are increasingly demanding organic agricultural products. This creates a new market for agricultural products which are produced in an environmentally-friendly way. Also the Community policy (EC Reg. 1257/97) promotes production methods compatible with the increasing needs of protection and improvement of the environment, natural resources, the soil and genetic diversity, as well as with the need to safeguard natural spaces and landscapes for sustainable agricultural development. Different studies prove that organic farming requires more labour input and triggers processes of diversification for economic activities (such as tourism, services, processing of agricultural products, etc.) that are enhanced by the image of being "natural" which is inherent to the organic farming concept. The main problem SIMOCA has addressed, which can also be considered a new approach, is the lack of a sustainable rural development strategy that can integrate socio-economic, agricultural, cultural and environmental aspects. The project has not only tackled all these aspects, but it has also confronted several additional problems, such as: - Weak competitiveness and environmental-friendliness of agriculture, - Depopulation and sub-urbanisation problems, - Loss of cultural heritage, - Poor diversification of economic activities and weakness in international relationships, - Shortcomings in infrastructures. Achievements: Through the creation of a harmonic and beneficial transnational co-operation the SIMOCA project has attained important results: - Building up of a common transnational knowledge base and communication networking system, - Implementation of a sustainable transnational rural development strategy based on increasing multifunctional and organic farming, - Creation of six competence centres in organic agriculture and sustainable rural development, - Creation of a Polycentric Documentation Centre, - Elaboration and demonstration of best practice models in multifunctional and organic agriculture in selected areas reduced environmental pollution (soil, water, air, food) and increased biodiversity, - Elaboration of a study on infrastructure and socio-economic needs in sensitive rural areas, - Creation of two networks: one for administrative institutions and another for scientific institutions.
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