The review of the Delegation of the European Union collected the testimony of Serguey Tarasiuk, Director of the International Foundation for Rural Development (IFRD), partner of Fert in Belarus with the rural actors of territories contaminated by the accident of Chernobyl.
” The happiness, it is when your work seems to be a leisure ” said one of my trainers, an incredible person. Today, I am a spread professional.
Agronomist, I supported my doctoral thesis at the Institute of pedology and agricultural chemistry of Minsk. I worked then in the laboratory which took care in particular of questions of radioecology, which concerned the radioprotection in agriculture on territories contaminated by the accident of Chernobyl. In this time, I got acquainted with a french research team which worked with the support of the European Community on the living conditions of the Man in these territories.They tried to understand the situations in which people had thrown after the accident and how they got adapted.
They tried to answer the question “What would it take for people to live better in the territories of Chernobyl? “
First, we began with a simple collaboration and over time, this work evolved towards a significant project which was realized within the framework of the Core program, financed by the European Community. In this program, we were responsible for the support for the economic initiatives of the inhabitants. For the majority of the rural population, the question of income is the main question, because in these territories, income is particularly low. In our mission, we supported various initiatives of improvement of the living conditions.
With the support of Fert, we organized an experiment: we gave to the inhabitants seeds of potatoes to sow on a hectare; we helped them to implement the best techniques. They fast noticed that on the experimental plot of land, the yield exceeded from 3 to 5 times that of their traditional plots of land. They showed quickly interest and motivation. They wanted to multiply this technique on the whole farm. We incited them to exchange on their problems and to set up solutions together in particular in the field of the credit by creating committees of credit more efficient to negotiate with the bank. Today, the device which allows to grant microcredit to the agricultural production is operational.
When people expressed their needs for advice and for information, we helped them to create centers of rural development. The first one of them, the Support center for agriculture and entrepreneurship District Stolyn was created in 2006. In 2007, it’s the local Foundation of the development of the rural territories ” Renaissance Agro ” that was created to Slavgorod.
At the national level, their interests are represented by the International Foundation for Rural Development (IFRD) which I manage. Our mission is to help people to realize their social and economic initiatives. Generally speaking, the work made with them has for objective to impact significantly their quality of life.
First of all, the actions are of nature technical as for potatoes. Secondly, the action takes a more organizational tower; it is a question of bringing the persons to argue in group, to solve problems which concern all the village. Finally, people begin to evoke questions such as ” How can we pursue this development? If we developed the agrotourism, who will come to us? Where are our children going to study? “. So, the resolution of the economic problems helps people to solve also their social problems. It’s the basis of ” the territorial approach ” there: to solve the most important problems of every inhabitant in a rural space, it’s necessary to succeed in combining the persons on the scale of the territory.
A three-year project, cofinanced by the European Commission, was set up for more than a year to Stolyn. We hope that during this period, the participants will realize all the initiatives which they expressed. Right now, 4 local projects are already approved, they are from now on in the course of instruction to obtain a financing. Among them, we shall retain the creation of the information center and educational to the school, which was threatened with closure, or still the creation of breeders’ association of poultry which try to improve their production, the development of villages or sources. A whole series of the other requests, are still in discussion.
I have never approached these questions in a classic way (question-answer type). It is rather for me of simple stages in the process which is taken in hand by people.
I make no decision alone in my office. I always begin to visit the inhabitants of these rural zones and I speak with them; this approach is fundamental for me.