Originally scheduled for the end of March, the first meeting of the Rural Council within the ARDENT project was held on June 18, 2020 in Osijek. The meeting was attended by 18 people – professors from the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, representatives of business support institutions, local entrepreneurs, representatives of development agencies and local action groups, and representatives of local government.

The meeting opened with the presentation of objectives and planned activities in the ARDENT project, after which Silva Wendling, the head of the Office for Agriculture of the Osijek-Baranja County, briefly presented the situation in the agricultural sector. Highlighting the biggest challenges and opportunities, she opened the discussion on rural development and the need to keep the young people from leaving rural areas of 5 Slavonian counties (Osijek-Baranja County, Vukovar-Srijem County, Brod-Posavina County, Požega-Slavonija County and Virovitica-Podravina County). During the discussion it was pointed out that there are both people and resources in rural areas, but in order to encourage further development of rural areas, additional training and learning are needed, administrative barriers should be reduced, and agriculture made an acceptable career among young people in rural areas. It was also stressed that rural areas need to regain their lost identity, as they are unrecognizable and unattractive to young people. Production of wheat, corn and soybeans is prevalent in rural areas, and therefore one of the Council’s proposals was to establish centres for education and training in agriculture, as well as to work on stronger connecting of producers into clusters.

Members of the Rural Council welcomed the initiative to emphasize the Triple-Helix principle of cooperation through the ARDENT project. Only in this way it is possible to mobilize all available resources and encourage the development of rural areas in Slavonian counties.

The event was covered by a local television station, and the video is available below: