April is the month when winter has left most of Sweden but tries to attack now and then, backstabbing us Swedes, hungry for the heat of the sun. It is also a hectic period for farmers and gardeners to prepare the soil for a good crop. In the network we are constantly trying to make the soil for rural development more fertile. The thematic working groups have had a joint meeting. There have also been activities about integration of immigrants in rural areas, a meeting on how to attract young people to the green businesses and finally the Local development strategies for CLLD have been approved, but not all of them.
In mid-April, we arranged a meeting with representatives from the thematic working groups Green businesses, Integration, Youth in rural development, Commercial and public services and Nature tourism. We introduced the national rural network, discussed intervention logic, indicators and self-assessment and how to communicate results. But the most important objective was to give the groups an opportunity to meet and learn more about each other.
What experiences have newly arrived refugees who come to a rural town in Sweden? What are the figures and statistics for the migration to Sweden? What activities can be carried out within the rural network over the next few years to establish, include and integrate refugees and other people from other countries in a better way into rural communities in Sweden. These were issued discussed when about 60 people from member organizations locally, regionally and nationally met at a workshop on April 13. The State Secretary (next to the Minister) at the Ministry of rural affairs opened the meeting and the activities that were proposed will be further developed in the thematic working group for integration within the rural network during the next two years .
The average age for Swedish farmers is high and not enough number of young people are attracted of the green industry. There is room for many more. The situation is serious and requires a joint effort by all the actors involved. The farmers' cooperatives, agricultural schools and authorities need to gather forces to actively inform and promote education in agriculture, forestry and horticulture.
In the Swedish Rural Network a thematic working group, Youth in green industries, arranged a meeting the 24:th of April where about 25 people from these organisations met and to discuss and make proposals for activities. In autumn, the group will participate with information about Agricultural schools on a high school fair in Stockholm where young people will receive information on opportunities for future studies. A concept will be developed that can be used in more high school fairs around the country.
This month was a crucial time for the Swedish Leader groups. The priority list of the local development strategies was decided and published. Of the 53 delivered strategies, 5 were not approved (given priority), thus only 48 Leader groups remain. In this number is included both multi fund and single fund strategies (using only the Maritime and Fishery Fund). So the number of groups has decreased from 63 + 14 (LAGs + FLAGs) to a total of 48. Many old groups have merged with others, forming larger areas but in five areas there will be no Leader/CLLD. The strategies were ranked by a selection committee according to quite strictly defined selection criteria and then the Managing Authority calculated the budget allocation taking both the ranking, the number of inhabitants and the population density into account.
There was also a budget threshold. In order to have sufficient administrative capacity and based on regulation recommendations, the MA decided that the areas must reach a budget of at least 3,5 M €. The five areas that did not reach that limit were not given priority. The final approval decision will be made when the Swedish RDP has been approved and when the groups have presented documents of LAG composition, selection criteria for projects, staff etc.