LAG “Cismeaua Sudului”
“The Ostrich Menagerie”
What would make a tourist who visits Gagauzia travel kilometers of bad road to get almost to the country’s southernmost point? A mini-menagerie of ostriches, Dmitrii Ianul from Cismichioi thought. He even got funding from the European Union to make this idea come true. The project was carried out through the Local Action Group (LAG) Cismeaua Sudului – Cismeaua Sudului [the Southern Spring], Dmitrii is part of the LAG management, which consists of representatives of the local government, the business environment and of the civil society from the three-member villages: Etulia, Alexandru Ioan Cuza and Cismichioi. After many meetings and discussions, the key issues and priorities of the three communities were identified. Thus, for next five years they are to promote jointly local economic growth, tourist attractiveness and territorial cohesion in the region.
One of the projects which fall within the LAG’s objectives is that of Dmitrii Ianul. Three years ago, the young man came back to his native village because he wanted to contribute to its development. But where did the idea of an ostrich business come from? “They are exotic and easy to take care of”, the young man simply explained. When they analysed how they could tap into the touristic potential, they realised that they needed to provide a strong reason for someone to venture into their village despite the tough journey there. An exotic challenge seemed to be the winning argument. The ostriches were the first thing Dmitrii thought about.
Many years ago, he read that this idea could turn into a profitable business: it requires neither special facilities, nor special feed, ostriches grow fast, live long, hardly get sick and they are expensively sold – not only the meat and eggs, but feathers and skin, too – as they are regarded as luxurious products. Dmitrii received financial support for his contribution to the development of a touristic route in the area. The small ostrich menagerie was laid out in the garden of his parents’ home. He removed the grapevine and trees away to give some space to the giant birds that need a lot of it – at least 40 meters – to run, to be in a good shape and to keep a good silhouette to the delight of the visitors. Dmitrii had never seen ostriches, and neither had he eaten ostrich meat and eggs until he bought the six female ostriches. His family and his neighbours still find it hard to believe that the ostrich chicks running around in the backyard are the biggest and fastest birds on Earth. In a year they will weigh over 100 kilograms and they will be taller than most of adult persons.
Dmitrii had more study visits through SARD. He saw how Romanian and Bulgarian LAGs work and the impact they had in community development. In Poland, he looked particularly into tourism development as a source of income. He was impressed with the way tourism assets can be developed even where it seems that there’s nothing to see or do. He came back home with ideas that came true and that are on the LAG’s touristic route to which his village belongs. A route rich in local adventures and experiences: it is in that region that the mammoth skeleton, which is now in the Museum of Ethnography of Chisinau, was discovered; an observatory tower was built at the outskirts of the village – the only place in Moldova from where you can see the Dobrogea Mountains from Romania; tourists are involved in a range of traditional activities, such as milking sheep and producing cheese at the sheepcote, harvesting and smashing grapes, gathering corn from the field and preparing mamaliga.
Dmitrii Ianul is sure that this kind of projects, are very necessary, especially in small and remote villages, where there are few jobs and development resources. ‘Such projects may be the only chance to modernise villages, such as ours, to improve the business environment, infrastructure and all the other things’, Dmitrii stated. He is convinced that although a year ago Cismichioi citizens were not so open-minded about EU-funded projects and were being skeptical about potential changes – now they look at it differently. They understood that such projects are there to help them have a better life at home, in their own region.
Funded by the European Union, implemented within SARD Programme
“Cismeaua Sudului” LAG contact information:
Manager: Mocan Nadejda
Phone: +373 68 238 386