Project: Latvia

“Laipni l┼źdzam!”

Country Overview:

Latvia is located by the Baltic Sea and shares borders with Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, and Belarus. 

Out of a total area of 6.5 million hectares, agricultural activity utilizes about 1.8 million hectares in the country. Agriculture is one of the major industries of the national economy and is closely connected with the development of the whole country, especially in rural regions. Unfortunately, the level of Latvian agricultural production is very low. The added value per person employed in agriculture was 10 percent lower than the EU country average. According to the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia in 2009, the agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors employed 4.7 percent of the total work force. 

The 2008–2010 Latvian financial crisis, which stemmed from the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, is a major ongoing economic and political problem in Latvia. In 2008, the Latvian economy took one of the sharpest downturns in the world. In February the Latvian government asked the International Monetary Fund and the European Union for an emergency bailout loan of 7.5 billion Euros. In December 2008 the Latvian unemployment rate stood at 7 percent. By December 2009, the figure had risen to 22.8 percent. During the crisis Latvia has had the highest rate of unemployment growth in the EU. Social stability and sustainable planning are one of the most important Latvian government priorities.

Heifer's Work in Latvia:

Latvia is part of the Heifer Baltic Foundation based in Vilnius, Lithuania. The organization was opened officially in 2005 with help from the Irish NGO Bothar, which provided a large grant to establish Heifer's first office in the region. Latvia's first project in Bilska, began the same year.  

The Heifer Baltic Foundation, operating in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, is working in rural communities to end hunger and poverty. It has the goal of participating in regional development and international cooperation programmes, to raise funds and implement projects not only in the Baltic countries, but also in other Central and Eastern European, Asian and African countries.

Key Services Heifer Provides:

Sustainable agricultural production: Livestock breeding and management training; Organic fertilizers; Biodiversity preservation

Post-harvest management and processing: Accessing local and alternative markets

Market development: Micro-enterprise development; Supporting small scale farms

Technology: Using environmentally friendly technologies; Innovative breeding techniques; Biomass fuel production

Nutrition: Promoting food security; Improving access to dairy, meat and vegetables through organic gardening