Over 100 rural entrepreneurs share out €9.4 million in state support

PRIA aims to jump-start the rural economy via its grants.
PRIA aims to jump-start the rural economy via its grants. Source: Birgit Vaarandi/minupilt.err.ee

The Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA) is granting 136 entrepreneurs support aimed at diversifying the rural economy, to the tune of over €9.4 million. The aid is co-financed by the EU and the Estonian state.

Under this rural economic activity diversification support measure, entrepreneurs got the opportunity to apply for investment support via PRIA for projects that help diversify the economic activity of rural areas, over and above agricultural production, according to BNS.

The aid's objective is to enable conditions for creating new jobs outside the agricultural sector in rural areas, PRIA said.

"We would like to note that we have reached the end of the program period and activities should be launched as soon as possible," said Kristel Võsu, development support department service manager at PRIA, via a press release.

"The deadlines set and other obligations involved in receiving the grant must certainly be followed very closely," Võsu added.

The round of applications ran September 18 to October 9 last year and constituted the fourth round of support measure applications.

PRIA accepted 39 agricultural entrepreneurs' applications, providing them with approximately €2.5 million in support, and 97 non-agricultural entrepreneurs, who received a total of €6.9 million in support. The grants came in under budget for that round, which had been set at €12 million, according to BNS.

The support is co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Estonian state budget, BNS reports, though the proportions of each were not reported.

The projects supported include repair shops, wood and metal processing equipment and solar power generation projects.

The PRIA was at the center of a scandal late last year which led to both the rural affairs minister and the ministry's long-term secretary general being released from office. PRIA had been plaintiff in an EU subsidy fraud case worth over a million euros, in which the defendants were represented by Urmas Arumäe, a lawyer who was also working part-time as a rural ministry advisor. This conflict of interest claim led in part to then-rural affairs minister Mart Järvik (EKRE) being released; the former secretary general, Illar Lemetti, was released from office on the same day, amid protests from some quarters, including presidntial ones. Lemetti had blown the whistle on the PRIA/Arumäe conflict of interest; he was recently elected mayor of Viimsi municipality, just outside Tallinn.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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