Serbia Newsflash Week 28

COVID-19 news, subsidies, green transitioning and the rose-flavored ice cream - The last week in Serbian agriculture

Serbian roses
©Mila Mirkovic
Theo Clevers is an edible rose breed from the company GenoRoses. It lends a delicate fragrance and sweet strawberry taste to a new ice cream flavor at the famous Moritz Ice parlor in Belgrade.

The Netherlands closes borders for residents of Serbia and Montenegro

The Netherlands’ decision to open borders for residents of Serbia and of Montenegro has been reversed on Tuesday, July 7th. This means that residents of these two countries cannot enter the Netherlands due to the latest COVID-19 developments. The Netherlands has made this decision for countries where the epidemiological situation is worse than the EU average. More info can be found here.

Serbian Chamber of Commerce reactivates COVID-19 info service for businesses

Owing to the ongoing situation caused by the spread of COVID-19, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) has reactivated the specialized info service through which Serbian companies can get information about key issues concerning business activities in the country and abroad, the latest developments, official measures, and recommendations. The Chamber’s expert services are constantlz in contact with all the relevant institutions and organizations, as well as business associations abroad. The PKS will aim to inform companies about business issues at the state, regional, and global levels in a timely manner. On its portal, the PKS will publish the most important news, announcements, decisions reached by the authorities in charge, and all other information relevant to the business community. The purpose of the service is to provide companies with information regarding the ways of protecting their operations and adapting to new working conditions.

Raspberry yields halved  

Raspberry yields in Serbia will be lower by up to 50% this year, and purchasers are only offering to pay 10-15% more compared to 2019's €1.7/kg, President of the Serbian Association of Raspberry Growers Dobrivoje Radovic said. He told the news agency that raspberries in retail stores and markets were sold at prices of over €4.25/kg, so sellers and resellers were earning huge amounts at the expense of farmers. It is not normal for re-sellers to raise the price by 150% and earn €2.55 per kg just because they bought raspberries from farmers and put them in plastic packaging, stated the President. According to him, when taking over the goods, buyers pay only a part of the price up front and pay the rest throughout the year. For this reason certain farmers are only receiving payment for last year’s raspberries these days. When it comes to wholesale trade, the Association expects that the raspberries would have went for at least €2/kg, even if yields had not been halved due to the bad weather and floods in central Serbia.

A new ice cream flavor with Serbian roses

Pheno GenoRoses is a botany company that specializes in the research and cultivation of roses with  facilities in both Serbia and the Netherlands. The first decade of their operations in Serbia was marked by creating and growing first class roses for modern rose lovers. Their bred edible rose breed ‘Theo Clevers’ was recently used for making a new flavour of ice cream at the famous Ice cream parlour Moritz Ice. Theo Clevers has a delicate fragrance and sweet strawberry flavor. Its feminine pink color is preserved during processing and cooking. It is quite healthy, and it can be grown organically.

Those who want to try this creamy delight can visit Moritz Ice shops in Belgrade and Novi Sad (Serbia).

More info is available here.

Fragrant lavender fields in the south of Serbia produce essential oils for EU buyers

Fields with lavender, immortelle, chamomile and roses cover an area of about 200 hectares in the village of Tamnjanica, South Serbia. These  medicinal and aromatic plants come from “Tamnjanica Eko Plantaže”, one of the largest plantations of its kind in the country. At a time when the colors of the flowers are the strongest, and their scent the most intoxicating, this place is frequented by nature lovers. When flowers at these plantations bloom in late June and early July, entire hills are painted with shades of purple and yellow. This plantation near the city of Bela Palanka has its own distillery. There are not many customers for essential oils in the domestic market. Local companies purchase only smaller quantities. The main technologist at the plantation’s distillery said that they have signed a ten year contract with a large French company. The market for their essential oils has been ensured. Their only remaining task now is to take good care of the plants in the fields.

Lavender in a field
©Marieke Guy
The lavender fields at Tamnjanica Eko Plantaže are a famous destination for nature lovers.

Public call for wine producers of over €2 million

The Agrarian Payment Agency, a part of the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Management, launched a public call, inviting tenders for subsidies for investment in the processing and marketing of wine in 2020. For this purpose, the state has set aside €2.13 million. The subsidies are intended for wine producers to build wineries and buy new equipment, devices, and machinery necessary for wine production. Requests can be submitted until August 19th . The subsidies will amount to 60% of the value of the investment in question minus VAT. The maximum amount of subsidies for investments in the construction of a winery is €255.000, the purchasing of new equipment, devices, and machinery €85.000, and general costs €8.500. The maximum amount a single beneficiary can receive in one calendar year is €349.000.

EBRD and UniCredit leasing support Serbian SMEs transition to green economy

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Government of Luxembourg are supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Serbia. Financing of up to €20 million is available through UniCredit Leasing Serbia for investments in climate and green economy projects. GEFF Serbia Leasing is part of the EBRD’s over global program with the budget of €4 billion. GEFF provides financing to businesses and individuals who wish to invest in green technologies. It is the EBRD’s financing instrument of €40 million that helps SMEs in Serbia, including sole proprietors and registered agricultural households, to improve their business through the application of high-performing, sustainable and green solutions in their operations. Investments in energy efficiency and the efficient management of water, land and natural resources as well as investments in the application of renewable energy sources boost the profitability and competitiveness of enterprises and mitigate the negative impact on the environment, global warming and climate change. The facility is available for privately-owned enterprises in the manufacturing, agriculture, services, construction, commerce and transport sectors. Leases will also be offered for electricity generation in photovoltaic solar power plants. Besides financial support GEFF Serbia Leasing also provides technical assistance in the form of an online database called the Technology Selector. It contains a list and characteristics of high-performing, assessed and pre-approved equipment eligible for financing with the instrument. Zsuzsanna Hargitai, EBRD Director for the Western Balkans said that the bank is providing significant support to the Serbian economy to carry out a successful transition to a green economy in cooperation with donors and UniCredit Leasing. It is promising that there is demand for green financing in the country as it is seeking to recover from the Covid crisis’ economic impact.

President of the Executive Board of UniCredit Leasing, Ms Milic said that they recognize the importance of the green economy and are proud that the EBRD is working with UniCredit to promote the importance of improving environmental protection in Serbia. The financing will not only help them make the business more sustainable in the long run, but will also create a healthier future for the future generations.

Photo credit: "Lavender" by Marieke Guy, via Flickr.