Serbia is negotiating with China about forming a hub from which Serbian agricultural products, but also those from the region, would be distributed in the Chinese market, said Serbian Agriculture Minister Branislav Nedimovic after the opening of Agro Belgrade 2020.
– At the moment, we export beef, lamb and wine to Chine, but we want to go further and make a serious business out of agriculture – the minister said.
Nedimovic said that the voting on the credit from the World Bank worth around USD 50 million was scheduled for the next day at the National Assembly of Serbia, with a considerable part of the loan pertaining to supporting fruit and vegetable farming and startups, whereas one line pertains to the devastated areas in eastern and southern Serbia. Another part, according to him, is reserved for stimulating e-agriculture, that is, electronic application for subsidies in agriculture, which should remove the paperwork.
He announced that land consolidation and farm electrification programs were being prepared, which should facilitate irrigation and make farming cheaper. He reminded that EUR 300 million had been set aside for agriculture within the Serbia 2025 plan, among other things, for irrigation, land consolidation and new mechanization, as well as for the project of increasing the competitiveness of the Serbian market and exports and decreasing the import of products the country can produce itself.
– Whenever it's the season for harvesting a fruit or a vegetable, the mechanisms of customs protection of 20% are in effect, so we do have protected agricultural products. It's another matter when it comes to the import out of season. That's why we need to adjust. The construction of several glass greenhouses has been announced, which would produce vegetables in periods when they are not available anywhere, making it a Serbian product. That's the essence of agriculture – to have the goods when no one else does, especially in fruit and vegetable farming – Nedimovic said.
He pointed out that the previous year had been good for export and purchasing prices of fruit.
– We exported 8% apples more in 2019 that in the previous year, at a very good price. The purchasing price of raspberries was good as well, and the perspectives are good for this year too. Sour cherries were solid as well, but the fruits burst due to the rainy season, so most went to the industry. That's why the whole Budimka story is important to us – Nedimovic emphasized and announced that Budimka would start producing in March or late April.
The minister also stated that the Law on Regulation of Market of Agricultural Products had been prepared and that the law would proscribe the obligation of each purchaser to register, with a guarantee of taking the purchased goods.
– Those who sell the goods will be able to check the register – Nedimovic said and announced that the law would start being implemented in the third quarter of 2020.
When it comes to the grape and wine sector, according to him, a strategy for the development of viticulture and winemaking is to be adopted in the upcoming 15 days.
– We have only around 12,000 hectares of vineyards in the register, and we want 700 to 1,000 new hectares per yer – Nedimovic pointed out.
He also mentioned young agricultural producers, saying that there were talks about the IPARD 3 program within which a special line will be intended for young agricultural producers.
– Around 5,500 young producers have already applied for funds for agricultural production, and priority will be given to those active in intensive production – fruit and vegetable farming, viticulture and livestock farming – Nedimovic emphasized.
Nedimovic also announced that, during the changing of the Law on Incentives, one of the top priorities would be incentives for organic plantations and all other organic production.