Romanian agency uses AI to help farmers get EU funding

A local farmer walks next to his cows in Luncavita, Romania, 2019.
A local farmer walks next to his cows in Luncavita, Romania, 2019. Copyright Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo, FILE
By Anna Desmarais
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Romania’s Rural Investing Finance Authority (AFIR) is streamlining the grant submission process for farmers by using AI to do their administrative work.

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Romania is now using artificial intelligence (AI) to help farmers access grants and funding from European bodies.

The government’s Rural Investing Finance Authority (AFIR) said in a press release last week that they are partnering with UiPath, a Romanian business automation and AI software, to streamline the submission process for them.

The move is supposed to save farmers time in processing financial files and lower costs for obtaining and submitting the right approvals and authorisations for their products.

It will also give farmers easier access to funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which improves the competitiveness of agriculture.

“Automation based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays an extremely important role in accelerating and streamlining key processes for farmers," George Chirita, Director-General of AFIR, said in a press release.

AFIR started using robots for software in 2020, the press release continued.

Chirita told Reuters that the agency handled financing requests worth €5.32 billion from more than 50,000 farmers, companies and local institutions. Overall the software saved 784 hours of document searches for government staff.

Romania is the lowest-ranking of all the EU states on digital transformation, according to a 2022 report from the European Commission.

The country is “lagging behind” because of a lack of digital skills compared to other EU states despite having a high ranking of information and communications technology graduates and good performance on internet connectivity.

The country passed a recovery and resilience plan in 2021 that included €1.4 billion for digitalising the government’s public administration.

AFIR claims to be the first Romanian ministry to work with EU funds to use AI in this ongoing digitalisation process.

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