Close to €14 million is being handed out to support rural areas, primarily towards sectors aside from traditional farming activities.
Projects eligible to apply for the latest support round include cafes, repair stores, carwash stations, solar power stations and the purchase of machinery such as stone cutters and log splitters, BNS reports, all aimed at diversifying rural economies.
The support has already been assigned, the authority responsible, the agricultural registers and information authority (PRIA), says.
Kristel Võsu, head of services at PRIA's development grants department said that: "In this call for proposals, applications for support for non-stationary machinery and equipment were popular. This was the first time that such an opportunity was available," adding that close to €4 million had been assigned for this.
PRIA falls under the Ministry of Rural Affairs' aegis. In late 2019 it was at the heart of a corruption scandal which led to the then-rural affairs minister and the ministry's long-serving secretary general leaving office.
Over 200 businesses have been granted funds, with €5.6 million going to 83 businesses actively engaged in agriculture, and €8.3 million (of 8.4 million allocated) to 125 businesses primarily engaged in other activities.
The application ran through the second half of March, and is the fifth round under the 2014-2020 rural development plan. Slightly less than the €14 million earmarked has been used.
While some of Estonia's hardest-hit rural areas lie far from the capital, Harju County, the most populous region of the country, home to nearly half its population and which includes Tallinn itself, took the largest single slice of the pie at €1.75 million. Tartu (population c. 150,000) and Viljandi (c. 48,000) counties were next, at €1.6 million and €1.4 million respectively.
Editor: Andrew Whyte