AZRRI: Agency for Rural Development of Istria Region Ltd, Pazin

imageThe Agency for Rural Development of Istria, Pazin is a limited company 100% owned by the County of Istria, and works closely with all county authorities and businesses, especially with the Department of Agriculture of the County of Istria, on joint projects especially for linking the public and private sectors, and projects that build the public infrastructure for the rural areas of the county. AZRRI was the first agency of this kind in Croatia with a specific purpose to coordinate production-wise activities into rural areas of Istria.

In addition to the Strategic Program for Rural Development of Istria (2007-2013), the Agency focusses on the determination of typical Istrian products and on preparing and implementing economic development programs and projects in the following areas:

– Research and development – collection, processing and statistical analysis of data related to rural areas and activities therein, elaboration of scientific projects for the development of rural areas, holding presentations – Strategic planning – drawing up strategic development programs for Istria County – Project preparation – elaborating projects, selection and coordination of partners, drawing up final documents – Project implementation – team selection and creation, candidate training, implementation coordination, activity supervision, final evaluation – Managing economic development programs – implementation and management of programs in rural areas of Istria – Promotion of Istria County – participation in national and international fairs, promotion of typical Istrian products – Farmer training – seminars, information about tenders, improving the level of practical knowledge, consultancy services

AZRRI consists of the following: – Laboratory for the development of meat products from meat breeds and native wildlife from Istria (Istrian cattle meat, durable meat products, meat products from wild game meat) – Oil Mill San Lorenzo – Vodnjan

Type of service provided: – Consulting services for EU funds – Consultancy Fund for Agriculture and Rural Development – Innovation and standardization of processes and products – Quality standardization – Quality control

AZZRI’s research and innovation have already had an impact in Istrian agriculture and the perception of the region as one of outstanding agricultural products which are known worldwide. They have led to a revitalization of traditional, authentic, meat processing. The institution has helped in the branding of Istrian meat and dairy products by setting standards in production processes and quality. The agency stands for and puts effort into balanced and sustainable development of the agricultural and agri-food sector in the Istrian region, by strengthening cooperation processes in the primary and secondary sectors, from within the county and broader. AZZRI has, and will do so more by being included in the NEXT project, increasing technology transfer and innovation in the production system. The activities of the Agency are also organized geographically into Local Activity Groups (LAG). The groups are LAG Rovinj, LAG Southern Istria, LAG Eastern Istria, LAG Poreč, LAG Central Istria and the LAG Northern Istria. The scope of the project is marked by a strong agricultural potential in participating countries and regions that can develop high-income and high-value production. These resources remain largely unexpressed on the southern side of the Adriatic coast, where the level of quality and quantity of production have room for a better growth trend. The agricultural sector in these countries, although it is one of the most important sources of employment and creates a large share of national GDP, is subject to many problems that the agency had to cope with in Croatia. AZZRI can assist companies as well as other research and development organizations and institutions to allow agricultural development by improving the quality of processes and products while preserving the environment. These problems are mainly related to the lack of technical assistance and innovation of production processes. The agency has also done its part in branding the whole region for their agricultural products such as olive oil and wine, as well as meat products. It has thereby contributed to the revitalization of rural Istria. Another benefit from the activities of AZRRI is its contribution to the tourism of the county. In the future AZRRI’s research will concentrate a great part on olive orchards and the olive oil production process. Because of this future focus, the agency has bought an own olive oil mill. The mill represents one of the largest investments of the agency. It is necessary for AZRRI to have its own mill in order to be able to control every phase of the oil production for the smallest changes in the production process influence the quality of the oil.

The Agency went the same path during its efforts to brand the regional autochthonous Istrian cattle and meat products thereof, and did this to great success. The Agency will also invest further in olive orchards for the potential of the region in the production of highest quality olive oil has not been reached yet. The agency has also put much effort in the education and quality awareness of olive oil producers, but must intensify this effort even more. In 2013 another agency with similar fields of interest (MIH – Made in Histria d.o.o.) has been melted with AZZRI. In 2012 the annual turnover of both companies was 19,745,000 HRK (2,598,000 €). The total number of employees was thereby raised from 21 in 2012 to 28 in 2013. Because of the combined know-how of both agencies and their branding experience, services and research which the Agency now offers, especially the experience and expertise regarding EU funding, should be met with interest of similar agencies and businesses of partaking regions. AZZRI’s expertize should be even more in demand once the NEXT-IS platform is established. All the know-how accumulated within the agency will be put to better use for other countries and regions which partake in the NEXT project will be able to lean on experience and knowledge concentrated within the agency. Research and services provided by the Agency and its experience in the branding of local agricultural and food-processing products can be of interest for other countries and regions partaking in the NEXT project because they face similar challenges as AZRRI. AZRRI’s Center for Regional Rural Development and Biodiversity Protection represents a capital infrastructure within the Agency founded with the purpose of tracking and planning needs of rural areas, proposals for systematic implementation of development policy in rural areas and interdisciplinary coordination of all activities. The Center is a public institution permanently aided by the public sector in the interest of creating quality conditions for the development of private enterprise in rural areas, taking into account sustainable development. The center will be organized through sub-centers as a multidisciplinary center that will provide the infrastructure for the implementation and organization of activities authorized by interested professional – scientific businesses in order to preserve plant and animal species and their economic development and achieving stability standard of living in rural parts, but also the entire region of Istria. By connecting farmers with the necessary professional, scientific and administrative departments and bodies in the network, the Center will provide quality interaction of all stakeholders, which will lead to economic development and facilitated communication of all involved parties.

The Center will be organized through sub-centers for specific activities relevant to the development of rural areas, as follows:

– Sub-center for the sustainable development of animal husbandry, beekeeping and biodiversity protection – Sub-center for the sustainable development of olive growing – Sub-center for the sustainable development of viticulture and winemaking – Sub-center for the sustainable development of mushroom – Sub-center for the sustainable development of fishery

The Sub-centers will be located in Pazin, Poreč, Vodnjan and Buzet. The Center will operate on a system of networks and gather and disseminate all the multi-disciplinary knowledge, as well as develop and coordinate public and private economic interests for the purpose of sustainable development. image

The map above shows the urban (blue) and predominantly rural (green) regions of the County of Istria. The map was created using OECD criteria for the determination of rural areas (less than 150 inhabitants per square kilometer). The map points out the importance of an agency focused on the development of rural areas in Istria. It is part of the Strategic Program of Rural Development for the County of Istria which was ordered by AZRRI and conducted by the University of Zagreb. Research results from the Agency for Rural Development of Istria Region are applicable in the agricultural, food-processi ng, health and tourism sectors. The Agency participated as lead partner and partner in many projects, some of them are ADRIENV, RI.MO.REG, TRUFFLINK, I-AGRI, INNO.W.A.TE, MULTIFARMERS, TOUR IN ADRI, AREFA, IPATECH, DESK ARTS, IRCOS, RETOUR, GREEN ECONOMY, S.Ma.P, and more.

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Contact: AZRRI d.o.o. Pazin Šetalište pazinske gimnazije 13 52000 Pazin, Croatia Tel: ++385 52 619 610 Fax: ++385 52 616 610 e-mail: info(at)azrri.hr web: www.azrri.hr

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