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THE ACTIVITIES OF ACDI/VOCA IN HUNGARY

Székelyhidi, Tamás
Agricultural Cooperative Development International
Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance
Budapest, Hungary

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ABSTRACT

The USAID-financed (United States Agency for International Development) ACDI/VOCA (Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance) is an American non-profit organization providing assistance for Hungarian agricultural small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) within the framework of its rural development program by providing technical assistance, developing training materials and organizing educational programs.
The programme started in 1996 in the three-border region of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén (BAZ) and of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg counties (in the micro-regions of Hegyköz, Fels-Bodrogköz and Kisvárda); and now the ACDI/VOCA activities cover several counties, including Hajdú-Bihar county. Besides improving access to information and credit, ACDI/VOCA also supports integration and cooperation initiatives among already existing enterprises, and in this way approximately 400 SMEs are assisted.
Based on the request of the Regional Development Council in BAZ-county, ACDI/VOCA has started to develop the monitoring and evaluation system of regional development projects. In this programme ACDI/VOCA is working together with the Regional Development Council of the Ministry for Environmental Protection and Regional Development, and PHARE. The expected output of this program is a project monitoring and evaluation system, and training materials for extensionists and managers involved in regional development.
ACDI/VOCA, in cooperation with agricultural specialists from the EU and Hungary, have participated in the development a the model of a unified agricultural statistics-information system. A training material has also been prepared, by which the system will be adapted and applied first in BAZ-county in Hungary.
ACDI/VOCA's information project aims to connect the selected micro-regions to the national information network; and with the help of its integration projects, ACDI/VOCA intends to reduce isolation of the individual enterprises and the micro-regions.
ACDI/VOCA pays special attention to promoting integrations. In their focus region, ACDI/VOCA has assisted in the establishment of 16 integrations. Among these were the following: potato, hunting and game management, tourism, berry processing, plum processing, apple processing, vegetable-processing (pickling), goat and sheep production and processing, organic sheep meat and beef production, and hog production.

Preparation of an extensionists' database and a training material
The first database and catalogue in Hungary that can be accessed through INTERNET has been prepared. This contains the descriptions and demos of all MIS (Management Information System) which can be applied in the extension of agricultural SMEs. The database also includes the collection of technological databases (production, breeding) that can be found in Hungary.
Based on the database and the training material prepared, ACDI/VOCA can organize training tailored to the local production and farming features.
ACDI/VOCA has prepared an extension package to be applied in the development and maintenance of the following sectors:

Of the above mentioned, the information system and databases for the Sheep and Goat sector were the first to have been recorded on a CD. This is the first sectorial management system prepared in Hungary, which contains all the information from the different technologies to the decision-supporting system, thus promoting comprehensive extension services.
The information database and the software on the CD were prepared so as to provide fast and effective help for the user, i.e. mainly the SMEs.
In the preparation of the CD, ACDI/VOCA has worked together with the Gödöll University of Economic Sciences, the Research Institute for Animal Breeding and Nutrition in Herceghalom and Awassi Rt.
ACDI/VOCA has launched two nationwide programmes aimed at enhancing the access of SMEs to credit and information: the Grain Warehousing Programme, which promotes the increased use of warehouse receipts as collateral in Hungary; and the Agricultural Policy and Outlook Project, which aims to provide information on the international market conditions of agricultural commodities.
Following is a list of training materials ACDI/VOCA Hungary can provide for further use/adaptation.
· grain warehousing training booklet for farmers;
· description of the technology of potato production for farmers;
· goat keeping, breeding and goat milk processing manuals;
· sheep keeping, breeding and sheep milk processing manuals;
· manual on the use of the Internet;
· technology of fruit (berry and apple) production and technology of processing fruit (jam, juice) for medium size producers;
· computerized data management and decision supporting system for master farmers;
· wild boar keeping, breeding and meat processing manuals;
· red deer keeping, breeding and meat processing manuals;
· fallow deer keeping, breeding and meat processing manuals;
· keeping and breeding of pigeon for slaughter and meat processing manuals;
· booklet on open hog production technology.

All these materials have been developed in the framework of the ACDI/VOCA regional development project to promote regional integration. These training materials are tailored to meet the special requirements of quality and profitability, and are adjusted to the local geographical and economic conditions.
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