Serbia Newsflash Week 29

EU accession, COVID-19 measures, border control rules, product price changes - The last week in Serbian agriculture

A bowl of freshly picked raspberries in the late afternoon sunshine
Beeld: ©Government of Prince Edward Island
The raspberry season is here but all the major producers are facing losses worldwide.

Cargo trucks with perishable goods have priority at the border crossings

The business community initiated it, and the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure of Serbia, with the support of Ministry of Interior and Custom Service of Serbia supported the idea of priority checks at the border crossings of all cargo trucks carrying fruits, vegetables and meat consignments. The Communication Department of the Customs Service will send pre-announcements every two hours to the Police Units at the Border Inspection Posts (BIP) with all necessary data in order for the lorries to have priority passage. Communicated information will contain data from all relevant documents: export declarations, license/plate numbers, tariff codes, codes of exiting BIPs. BIPs that are included in this scheme are: Batrovci (BIP Croatia); Horgos (BIP Hungary); Vatin (BIP Romania)

Raspberry prices on the rise  

Due to a rise in demand, raspberry prices are starting to increase, and purchasers are offering the starting price of €1.83/kg. The President of the Serbian Raspberry and Blackberry Association said that the bad weather condition in the last couple of weeks resulted in reduced raspberry yields (see more in our recent article over here). Thus, traders and cold storage owners are forced to offer the purchasing price of 1.83 EUR/kg.  He forecasted that raspberry yields 2020 in Serbia will be decreased by 50%. The other two global leaders in berry production, Poland and Chile, are also facing losses. Decreased yields and increased demands for this healthy berry fruit will result in increased per kilogram prices of the fruit.  Berry fruits, raspberry especially, contain high quantities of Vitamin C, which is essential for the immune system. At the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, building up one’s immune system is the least one can do for their wellbeing.  The blackberry harvest has not started yet, but due to the reduced production and offer, the purchasing price is expected to reach €1/kg.

A bountiful wheat harvest

The wheat harvest in Serbia is nearly completed. The total yield is expected to be approximately 2.6 million tons, which is a rise of 5-6% y-o-y. Still to be harvested are about 2% of wheat fields in Vojvodina and around 10-12% in central Serbia. The Director of the Serbian Grain Association said that 2020 wheat harvest will be remembered for big differences among wheat yields, ranging between three to nine tons per hectare depending on the part of the country. The average is 4.5 tons/ha. According to trade parameters, wheat is of the good quality this year. The Director added that the price of wheat in Serbia is €0.155 – 0.16/kg. which is still a bit higher compared to the neighboring countries. For that reason, wheat exports will not start until the prices rise abroad or drop in Serbia. However, the Director underlined that the current prices in Serbia are not sufficient to cover all expenses, and the wheat should cost at least €0.178/kg to make a profit.

Soya production in Serbia on the rise

With an increased public awareness of the importance of healthy eating following the COVID-19 crisis, rising demand for plant-based diets and the arrival of the European Farm to Fork strategy, soybean is becoming a more and more important crop. An overview of the state of soybean cultivation in one of the largest European soy producer can be found here.

Serbian start-ups to take part in competition for innovative solutions in agri-food sector

EIT Food Innovation Prizes is one of the largest startup competitions in the agrifood vertical in Southern and Eastern Europe organized by European Institute for Innovation and food Technology For the first time this year this competition will take place in Serbia. The Serbian final of EIT Food Innovation Prizes will take place on Monday, July 20th. The jury will choose among innovative solutions and award the three most innovative and promising startups with €1,000, €3,000 and €5,000. Meet the most innovative agrifood startups in Serbia and vote for your favorite finalist following this link.

Trucks can be seen waiting at a border crossing point.
Beeld: ©MM
Cargo trucks carrying perishable goods will now have an easier time crossing the borders of Serbia.

Serbia accepts the new EU accession methodology

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic told French President Emmanuel Macron that Serbia accepts the new methodology for accession to the European Union. The Serbian President expressed the conviction that Serbia will open many more chapters in the pre-accession negotiations with the EU using the new methodology. This new methodology was adopted on Mr. Macron's initiative, and it is more favorable and far more concrete. However, the Serbian government still has to formally decide on its adoption. The new EU enlargement methodology is expected to develop a system for "rewarding" and "punishing" membership candidates for demonstrated results in the accession process, which would further motivate authorities to embark on often politically "expensive" reforms. The acceptance of the new methodology does not call into question the results achieved in the already open chapters, but it is expected that in the next period, more related chapters will be opened on one occasion, instead of two chapters per intergovernmental conference.

Balkans International Wine Competition postponed due to the coronavirus

Due to the decision to limit the number of people in groups outdoors and indoors to 10, as part of the measures to counter the COVID-19 epidemic, the Balkans International Wine Competition, scheduled for July 15-17 in Belgrade, has been postponed for September. The biggest regional wine competition will be held in Belgrade on September 9-11, the organizers announced. “Due to the latest strict epidemiological measures in the host-country, Serbia, we were forced to postpone the event. We promise that we will do everything in our power to organize an excellent competition in September. In Serbia, we will also award Best of Show trophies for wines from all the countries-participants and announce the new host-country for the BIWC 2021, Galina Niforou and Konstantinos Lazarakis MW, and the whole BIWC team, said in a joint letter.

Furthermore, a tasting session for representatives of the wine sector was planned. A masterclasses and a gala dinner, better and more glamorous than initially planned is to be organized. They announced that the winners of all the medals will be announced at the gala event in Sofia on September 16, which will act as an introduction to the Balkan Wine Festival, scheduled for September 17-19 in front of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, where all the countries of the Balkans will present their wines within national pavilions.

New anti-COVID regulation for employers and employees

The Ministry of Labor has approved a new regulation, which came into the force this week, for employers and employees which contains measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Employers must adapt their operating plans with the new measures by August 10. The new regulation prescribes preventive measures to be applied by the employer in order to prevent the onset and spread of a contagious disease and to ensure safe workplace for employees in the working environment. The regulation applies to all workplaces, with the exception of outdoor work and work from home. Employers are required to adopt their operational plans to the new measures which are an integral part of the risk assessment in accordance with the law and regulations. In addition, the employer is required to harmonize their plan for the implementation of the measures, according to the decisions of the line authorities. The employer is required to ensure that preventive measures are applied in every workplace, and in particular to provide written instructions and instructions on measures and procedures to prevent the outbreak of infectious disease and to provide information on the symptoms of an infectious disease. Depending on the possibilities, companies should have a second or third shift with fewer employees.

There should also be better hygiene of work and auxiliary facilities, which includes the regular disinfection of these rooms and the frequent ventilation of the work area. Employees should be provided with sufficient quantities of soap, towels, running water and alcohol-based disinfectants for hand washing. Companies should ensure regular cleaning of all surfaces frequently touched at the workplace, in particular rooms and equipment such as toilets, door handles, telephones (landlines), computer equipment and other work equipment, as well as adjust the way work and auxiliary room disinfection records are kept. Companies should secure contact with contractors, suppliers, distributors and external collaborators, organise and ensure the regular removal of waste and rubbish (plastic-coated garbage bins) from the premises so that they can be emptied without contact with the bin content.

Employers are also required to ensure the application of preventive measures in the event of the appearance of an infectious disease, and in particular to disinfect and ventilate the area where an infected employee has been spending time regularly, as well as to comply with the procedures for entering and leaving the premises and implementation of other protective measures during the work process. It is necessary to precisely define in which directions employees are allowed to move in work and auxiliary premises, to carry out strict control of the movement of employees from the unit in which the infected employee worked, to reduce their contact with others and to maintain the prescribed protective measures.

Photo credit:
Cover picture: “Bowl of fresh raspberries” by Government of Prince Edward Island’s Photostream, via Flickr.