About 20 female organic producers from 9 CEI countries gathered for the first time during The Central European Women Farmers Gathering 2015 held on 29 August - 2 September in Pirot, Serbia. The gathering was hosted by the Amma – Center for the Care of People and Nature and co-financed by the CEI Cooperation Fund. The Global Federation of WWOOF Organisations and the Pirot Municipality participated as project partners.

The intensive event included five days of workshops on organic market and networks. In particular, the participants developed a short business plan for selling their products, while receiving individual consultancy. The Programme also included a discussion on the World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), a paper recycling workshop, the organic market, product and seed exchange, a field trip to livestock farm and rural tourism businesses lead by a woman, and an initiative for cleaning the nearby river.

During the event, similar problems were identified for women farmers in all the participating countries, many of which are related to the fact that the current European legislation model does not differentiate between small producers and larger agricultural companies.

“It is not possible for small producers to fulfil all the standards and requests of the authorities when it comes to production and market access. We are just too small to compete with the big companies and therefore different rules should be set for us,” a wine producer from Serbia said. As a solution for the current situation, women recognised cooperatives as a networking model for sharing resources, experiences and easier access to the organic food market.
  The CEI Cooperation Fund, to which all the Member States contribute, co-finances Cooperation Activities - projects of small scale and limited duration, which mainly take the form of seminars, workshops, short training courses or other kinds of meetings.