Serbia Newsflash Week 40

Food waste awareness, logistical streamlining, EU accession news, organic farming, river pollution - The week in Serbian agriculture

Picture of an apple on a tree.
©Mircea Ploscar
The producer Nectar is expanding its plantations with 20 hectares of organic apple orchards.

International day of awareness of food losses in Serbia

The UN General Assembly set September 29th as the International day of awareness of food losses and food waste. Food Bank Belgrade has called citizens and companies to employ innovations and new technologies in order to prevent further food losses and food waste. It is estimated that one third of the food produced for human consumption worldwide (approximately 1.3 billion tons) get wasted while at the same time 1 billion people are starving. As reported in the news flash in our September 18 newsflash, Serbian data from February shows that 1.8 million out of about 7 million people in the country live on the edge of poverty, but nevertheless, the population throws away 350,000 tons (a staggering 35 tons per capita) of food every year. Food Bank Belgrade together with Ahold Delhaize are implementing a campaign “Help the ones in need”. Ahold Delhaize made a decision to offer only first class of fruits and vegetables in their shops. Those products that did not sell and are not considered first class anymore are donated to charity.

WWF and Bankwatch call on WB governments to cancel incentives for small hydropower plants

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Bankwatch organisation have called on Western Balkan governments to cancel incentives for small hydropower plants (HPP), which represent the biggest danger for the last free-flowing rivers in Europe. As they said, the number of species in fresh waters has reduced by 84% since 1970 and over 60% of rivers in Europe are in a bad state, mostly due to degradation and destruction through dam, HPPs, canal construction, as well as uncontrolled exploitation of sand and gravel, poorly planned navigation infrastructure, etc. According to the announcement, the WB region is home to some of the last free-flowing rivers in Europe, “and sadly, they are under great pressure today.” Incentives to producers of electric energy from small HPPs represent the main reason why about 2,700 small HPPs are planned throughout the WB. The announcement notes that, if they are not stopped, hundreds of rivers will be destroyed, and 5.000 kilometres of untouched rivers will be lost.

Honey and Apiculture Fair opened in Belgrade

The International Honey and Apiculture Fair is taking place in the central park of Belgrade for the 46th time. It will last until October 4th.  There are 120 farmers exhibiting their apicultural products and around 100 exhibitors presenting equipment for honey farming and apiculture. The Fair is organized by the Belgrade Association of bee breeders and it gathers all relevant producers from Belgrade region and Serbia but also they have welcomed producers from the region as well.

89 medals for Serbian wines at Decanter World Wine Competition

It turned out that the most challenging years in Serbian wine production yielded  the most medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Last year Serbian wines got 44 medals and this year Serbia got one platinum, three gold, 26 silver and 59 bronze medals . This achievement clearly shows that Serbian wines are improving in quality but also that Serbian wine producers are investing in marketing and have recognized the importance of their presence at the international wine competitions. Decanter Wine Competition is known for its strict criteria when judging the quality of wines.

Juice producer expands its apple orchards and is turning organic  

In addition to the existing orchards spanning 45 hectares, the producer Nectar will plant organic apples on another 20 ha in Vladicin Han, South Serbia this year, the company announced. This year’s yield should reach some 400 tons at the end of the year. According to the plan, in two years’ time, the total production should be converted and all 114 ha will be producing organic apples, so the yield should reach up to 4.000 tons of organic apple varieties. “This is just another big step in the company’s years-long strategy to produce healthy products with added value. We believe this will contribute not only to the development of organic production in Serbia but also to the development of the south part of our country,” the Director of Corporate Affairs stated. So far, €200 thousand has been invested in equipment and seedlings, and a total of €500 thousand will be invested over the next four years. Nectar cooperates with over five hundred farmers in South Serbia, in the area of Vladicin Han, Leskovac, Crna Trava, Medvedja, and Lebane alone. Nectar’s biggest fruit processing factory is also situated in this part of Serbia.

A picture of grapes on the vine.
©Igor Ovsyannykov
The grape harvest season is now underway. Serbian wine production is being more and more recognized, with 89 medals won at the international Decanter World Wine Awards.

Movement of goods from the region to the EU should be facilitated  

The business community brought together by the Western Balkan chambers of commerce will work with transport community experts to eliminate obstacles and thus facilitate the transport of goods and reduce wait times on railroad border checkpoints within the region and those with the EU. That was concluded at the meeting between by Western Balkans Six Chamber Investment Forum President and Director of Transport Community Secretariat in Belgrade. Western Balkan green lanes were established in record-breaking time, in six months only. By activating additional lanes on borders with Hungary and Croatia, especially Horgos and Batrovci, and opening smaller border crossings for empty trucks – which is what businesses insist on – the movement of goods intended for the EU would be accelerated and transport costs reduced.

Annual report on Serbia’s EU accession progress on October 6

The annual report on Serbia’s progress on the EU path should be on the agenda of the European Commission on October 6, together with reports on other candidate countries. This plan was presented on the list of potential items on the agenda of the Commission for September and October. The date is not definite yet, because the EC President has the option of changing the agenda in accordance with circumstances. The last report on Serbia’s progress was published in May 2019, and this year’s report was moved from spring to autumn because of the coronavirus pandemic.  Chapters 11-12-13 are dedicated to the developments in agriculture and rural development,  food safety and fishery sectors.

Serbia neglects its rivers

Serbia is rich in rivers, but it seems that it doesn’t take good care of them, the national broadcaster reported. The rivers are polluted because of sewage waters, factory wastewaters, communal waste, agriculture waste waters and pesticides. The Danube and the Morava have not experienced significant changes, but the water quality in the Sava river has become worse. Sixty thousand swimming pools of wastewater is dumped every year into the Danube and the Sava. Analyses show that the quality of water of smaller rivers and canals in Belgrade is even worse than in large rivers. Sudden deaths of swans and other wild birds in the last two moths attracted a public attention. Samples for water quality analyses were taken from the left bank of the river Danube where the dead birds were found (Jokic’s canal). They showed a lack of oxygen in the water and presence of pesticides from surrounding farms. The level of water pollution correlates with death of birds. The Director of the Agency for Environmental Protection said that the water samples were taken from 3 locations and that organoleptic characteristics were shoddy. Also, increased amounts of ammonia and nitrite nitrogen were detected. Such findings are the consequence of agriculture pollution. Serbia plans to invest a billion euros into wastewater treatment by 2025 but related regulation for environmental protection should be implemented strictly.

Photo credit:
"Apple" by Mircea Ploscar via Pixabay
"Grape" byIgor Ovsyannykov via Pixabay