Study: Finns hope to have a viable countryside also in the future
The whole of Finland benefits from a viable countryside. This is the opinion of a clear majority of the Finns: 72% of the total population, 76% of small and medium business owners and 94% of farmers.
This is the result of a study conducted by TNS Gallup, commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Answers came from almost 3 000 Finns concerning how much they knew about the opportunities offered by and impacts of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland funded from it. The support schemes under these include environmental payments to agriculture, payments to areas facing natural constraints (LFAs) and animal welfare payments. Support is also available to developing rural industries and services.
Growth fund offers opportunities to entrepreneurs
– EAFRD is a significant growth fund. However, quite few entrepreneurs know that support from it is available not only to agricultural producers but also to those engaged in other types of business in the rural areas. Of the surface area of Finland 95% is classified as rural, which means that the spectrum of entrepreneurial activities in these areas is broad indeed, says Taina Vesanto, Director of the Rural Development Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
According to the study, 60% of the rural business owners do not know about the EU support available for rural development. Only 3% of them had received support under the Rural Development Programme.
– Knowledge about the opportunities offered by the programme needs to be increased, especially among the young. The wish for a viable countryside in the future will not come true unless we have future-oriented actors, innovation and courage, Taina Vesanto points out.
By 2020 a total of almost two billion euros would be available for entrepreneurs to be used for investments, development, networking and cooperation.
From ideas to projects
The study showed that about a third of the Finns knew about the EU fund but did not have the need or a suitable use for the support. Vesanto wishes to remind that assistance for advancing new ideas is also available.
– When an idea for developing one’s own home region starts to form, you should feel free to contact the nearest Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment or Leader group. Their experts will help to turn ideas into concrete projects that promote rural development.
For example, development organisations, local governments, enterprises and residents may join forces to prepare local, regional or international projects to develop business, expertise and services. Rural people may use support under the programme to enhance the amenities or services of their home region and access to it.
The programme is the key instrument in renewing agriculture and promoting the viability of the countryside. The current programming period covers the years 2014–2020, with public funding for the whole period totalling 8.265 billion euros.
Taina Vesanto, Director of the Rural Development Unit, tel. +358 295 16 2405
Eeva-Kaisa Kivistö, Information Officer, tel. +358 295 16 2345
Further information on the Rural Development Programme to applicants:
ELY Centres and Leader groups