KOMA and Diaconia Partner to Build Store in Moldova

Our colleague Vojtech Zitny visited the building site of a joint project between Diaconia and the corporation KOMA Modular (CZ).  Diaconia and KOMA are working together to build a grocery store through which Moldovan farmers can sell their produce. Vojtech spoke with two of the farmers who will seek to benefit from the partnership.  

Organic Certification for Maria and Tudor.

Maria and Tudor Darii have worked with Diaconia and our Moldovan partner, ProCoRe, for three years. Throughout that time, they have grown their farm, provided seasonal jobs to the local community, and are now at the end of a long process to obtain organic certification. Mari and Tudor have never used chemicals on their farm and have always instituted sustainable growing practices, but the process for certification has lasted four years. Soon they will receive their certificate and (hopefully) become the vanguard for a new type of Moldovan agricultural operation. (Moldovan agriculture is still reeling from the negative ecological and economic consequences of years of collective, Soviet-era farming.)

Distribution Barriers

Distribution barriers to markets and grocery stores for farmers in rural villages throughout Moldova is a major problem. At times roads can be unreliable and the long transport to market ensures that large commercial competitors can undercut farmers’ prices. This has deleterious effects on the development of Moldova’s economy. To fight this problem, Diaconia and KOMA are working together to offer a possible alternative: farmer-owned stores.

Maria and Tudor’s farm lies in the countryside around the regional city of Drochie. The farm consists of growing fields and dozens of greenhouses full of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other mixed vegetables. And right next to the greenhouses, parallel to the main arterial road into the city, Maria and Tudor are building their grocery store.

The foundation for the building has already been prepared.  KOMA Modular is providing the building materials along with the architectural design. The basement of the future store will serve as a produce storage facility, while the main floor will be the market. By the end of the year, the building and the parking lot will be completed.

The plan for the store is twofold: 1) the store will offer Maria and Tudor a retail space to sell their own produce and 2) the store will serve as an avenue through which other farmers from around the region can sell their produce and make a living. Pricing will be determined by the farmers themselves. The store, as a model, seeks to overcome two large barriers to economic development: pricing and distribution. It’s a creative model that puts agency back in the hands of the men and women who grow Moldova’s food, and, in the end, can be replicated across the country, thus maximizing impact.

Jeremy Ault