The Standing Working Group for Regional Rural Development (SWG) in SEE, within the project “Rural development through integrated forest and water resources management in Southeast Europe: Rural perspectives: qualification, reintegration and (self) employment”, financed by the German International Cooperation (GIZ), supported the organization of a two-day training entitled “How to achieve successful association and business linking of actors in rural tourism”. The training was conducted on the topics “Successful association – from theory to practice” and “Planning of growth, development and managing of the association”. The training was organized for participants from the cross-border region “Drina-Tara“ in the period from 23-24 October, 2017 in Zlatibor, Serbia.
In total 56 participants, representing the business sector from Serbia (Uzice, Cajetina, Bajina Basta, Priboj, Prijepolje), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Rudo, Bratunac, Srebrenica, Visegrad) and Montenegro (Pljevlja, Bijelo Polje), attended the trainings. The trainings were divided in three connected segments. In the first segment were elaborated purposes and benefits from joining, history and forms of association with parallel insight in the national legislative on this matter in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, targeting specific issues in each country. After this segment, the participants were introduced with successful and not so successful stories about joining in associations and the results achieved through networking. The presented stories were as follows: agro-business sector and rural development emphasizing strength of mutual promotion and appearance on the market, benefits of mutual production, preservation and distribution of fruit, importance of labeling rural household’s locations and establishing degustation centers, benefits from protection of geographical origin of cheese and pottery and problems related to the usage of this level of protection. In the next segment, the importance of planning was presented, where participants had the opportunity to present and exchange their working experience.
After this, the methodology of Rural Cafe was implemented. The purpose of this methodology was that all participants with support of 4 hosts of Rural Cafe (selected members of existing association) defined visions and several priority interventions and actions to improve the work of their associations. The hosts were:
-Agriculture raspberry cooperative “Uvac-Rudo”, Rudo, B&H which defined the following interventions: increasing quality of raspberry gathering from producers, increasing quality of seedling raspberry material, introduction of Global Gap standard, regeneration of existing plants under raspberry, increasing number of cooperative members.
-Centre for democracy “Luna” from Rudo, B&H defined the following interventions: raising capacities of production of traditional home made products, raising practical skills capacities of women that work in production of this products, branding and distribution of products, establishing of degustation center for traditional products and connecting distribution with tourism routes.
-Association “Seoski turizam Srbije”, Uzice, Serbia defined the following interventions: standardization of production of traditional products, increasing number of women participating in traditional production, increasing skills of women working in production of traditional products, branding and distribution of products through households working in rural tourism.
-Beekeeping Association “Matica”, Pljevlja defined the following interventions: education of existing members, education of local community about importance of beekeeping, increasing number of members and solving problems of beeswax.
All these proposed interventions served as a baseline for the following part of the training related to project cycle management – what are the basic steps toward the design of good project proposal. In this part of the training the participants were introduced with the phases of the project cycle: identification, formulation, implementation and formulation. All groups, based on previously defined interventions, designed problem analysis, problem tree and after that a goal tree. Based on this overall and specific objective the results were defined. The participants were also introduced with the indicators, sources of verification and risks and assumptions. These are all elements of the logical framework matrix which is basic for every project development. After that, the participants got the most important links where they can gather information about potential sources of funding for their future projects. The links were provided for Serbia, Montenegro and B&H. The last segment was dedicated to the stakeholder analysis and how to communicate with them. The participants were divided into four groups in order to define their stakeholders and rank them according to the impact and importance for the work. Based on this they got acquainted with basic information how to create strategy of communication with the most important stakeholders.