EU Special Representative Office held the last of forums about the development perspectives of BiH agriculture in BiH. The last one was held in city of Trebinje and gathered large number of farmers in this area.
In the last several months, ten successful forums were held across BiH and brought together more than 1,500 agricultural producers who discussed ways of improving their production with representatives of the EU and domestic, regional and international experts.
“The EU market is very competitive, but the European Union also offers numerous development opportunities for the agrarian sector. In order to access these opportunities, farmers need to apply European standards in their work. Start preparing for the EU right away”, said the Head of the EU Delegation in BiH and EU Special Representative, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark.
He also once again stressed the importance of adopting a country-wide strategy for agriculture and rural development. The forum in Trebinje was also attended by the Dutch Ambassador to BiH Jurriaan Kraak, and the Polish Ambassador to BiH Andrzej Krawczyk who related the experiences of their countries.
“The EU and its member states will continue to assist BiH, but you need to have a single strategy in order to access EU funds”, Kraak said, pointing out that BiH has very good natural potential for developing sustainable agricultural production. One of the main messages of the forums also was the need for farmers to unite in order to strengthen their economic position. A regional expert involved in the project, Jovica Jaksic, from the Independent Farmers’ Association of Serbia pointed out that agricultural producers must make a joint stand both on the market and when addressing their demands to the institutions.
Farmers in Republic of Srpska however, don’t have a reason to be overly optimistic. On Wednesday they organized peaceful protest because RS Government didn’t pay incentives for last year. The debt of the Government to farmers amounts to about 30 million BAM (15 million Euro). President of Farmers Association of RS, Vladimir Usorac, said that farmers are ready to block all roads in entity if Government fail to pay incentives till March 23.
“It is the final deadline. With the protest at Wednesday we show that farmers are able to get organized. We are fed up with promises”, Usorac said.
He added that it is true that farmers representatives had a meeting with RS PM, Zeljka Cvijanovic, and that they agree the payment after Russian Federation pay the clearing debt to BiH. But, as he said, farmers are disappointed because the agreement was not followed with appropriate Government decisions.
“We have nothing in writting, no clear decision of the Government. How can we trust them”, Usorac wondered.
The forum in Trebinje was followed by an informative-educational fair and featuring displays by the USAID/Sweden project FARMA II, HELP BiH, as well as the Žepče Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers (UPIP) and the Farmofit – Rapić feed factory from Gradiška.
The implementation of this project was supported by Vesta Group from Tuzla and the Aquarius marketing agency from Banja Luka./IBNA