Serbia extends price cap policy on sunflower oil, sugar and flour

An estension of price caps, rising organic production, improvements in digital argiculture, cultural heritage recognized by UNESCO and the creation of the "drinkable bag" - Our weekly briefing on agriculture, food and nature news in Serbia.

Bread being made with flour.
Beeld: ©Duncan Kidd
Together with sunflower oil and granulated sugar, T-400 type sugar has a government-enforced price cap in Serbia.

Cap on prices of sunflower oil, sugar and flour extended, pellet export allowed

On December 1,  the Serbian government adopted a decree limiting the price of basic foodstuffs, according to which the price of edible sunflower oil must not exceed €1.88 per liter, the price of white granulated sugar must not be higher than €0.98 per kg and type T-400 flour must not be more expensive than €0.72 per kg.

The Serbian government has increased the trading margin of fuel from €0.06 to €0.07 per liter for gas station owners. At the session, the export of Euro diesel EN 590 was banned for another 15 days, while the export of wood pellets was allowed until 31 January 2023, within the quota of 24.000 tons.

The Decree extending the deadline for submitting applications for the subsidized allocation for tractors until 26 December 2022, was adopted and amended, due to a large number of interested farmers, reads the statement.

Organic production on the rise

The value of the export of organic products from Serbia has increased by more than 15-fold in the last decade. Compared to 2020, it increased by 53% y-o-y amounting to €57.4 million, stated the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS).

“For more than 20 years Serbia has been present as a producer of organic products in the world market, and during that time, all indicators have shown rapid and stable development,” said Bojana Lalovic, representative of the Center for the Organization of Fairs, Manifestations and Events at PKS.  

According to Ms. Lalovic, there are currently more than 7 thousand producers, and many of them regularly participate in international fairs where they promote their organic products. Ms. Lalovic said that Serbia had been consistent at the leading International Fair of Organic Products, BioFach, in Nuremberg, Germany, for more than a decade.

First, the performance was organized by the National Association “Serbia Organica” (NASO), and since 2019, PKS and the Development Agency of Serbia have taken over that role of organizors. “At the upcoming BioFach 2023 fair, which will be held from February 14 to 17 next year, 11 companies from Serbia will take part,” announced Lalovic. Under the “We speak organic” slogan, Serbian organic producers will present their range of products, from fresh, dried, lyophilized and frozen fruits and vegetables, products from organic cereals, flour and pasta, jams from organic fruits, to honey and dried mushrooms, the announcement reads.

Assessment of humus content in the soil using the AgroSens platform

During the promotion of the project "Creation of a map of humus in the soil using satellite images and laboratory soil analysis" implemented by the BioSens Institute, new functionalities were presented that improved the AgroSens digital platform.

With the help of the platform, farmers can get an estimate of the amount of humus in the soil up to 10 meters depth. This first map of humus in Serbia will enable agricultural producers and advisors to maintain or increase the level of humus with optimal agrotechnical measures, preserve the soil quality and contribute to sustainable rural development and improvement of the quality of life in the countryside. Digital Platform AgroSens is free of charge and has more than 20,000 users.

Drinkable bags

The owner of the Serbian company Eko Bio Invest Ms. Marina Cvijanovic, will start the production of plastic bags, protective suits and other articles made of plastic that can be decomposed by hot water, which you can then drink, Bloomberg Adria Serbia reported.

This is a pilot project with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the EU Delegation in Serbia. The company is obliged to take waste from food banks in Cacak and use it in production.

The company will start the production of granules from organic waste (fruit and vegetables), which will be the raw material for the production of plastic films, bags, glasses, plates, gloves, protective clothing, q-tips [GKv1]  [SZ2] and packaging.

Sljivovica inscribed on UNESCO intangible heritage list

Sljivovica, a Serbian traditional plum brandy was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Ministry of Culture announced last week. It was described as “the element of the intangible cultural heritage of Serbia” with an explanation that it includes “social practices and knowledge related to the preparation and use of the traditional plum spirit”.

The decision on the inscription was made by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Preservation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at its 17th session held in Rabat, Morocco. The Ministry of Culture nominated “Sljivovica” in 2021, and the nomination was prepared by the Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia at the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade with the participation of heritage holders, local communities, institutions and non-governmental organizations, associations, and the proponents are the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade and the Cacak National Museum.

The elements on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage from Serbia are Slava – celebration of family saint patron’s day (2014), Kolo - a traditional folk dance (2017), Singing to the accompaniment of the Gusle (2018) and Zlakusa pottery making (2020), it is stated in the announcement.

Due to high costs, most of animal waste is buried or thrown into nature

"Animal waste and wild landfills - the past of ugly habits?!", a project implemented by the Association of Young Agriculturalists of Serbia organized an informative meeting attended by representatives of local authorities and institutions of Pomoravski district.

The importance of proper management of animal waste for public health and the environment was discussed by representatives of the environmental protection services, ecological and communal inspections from municipalities of Rekovac, Jagodina, Despotovac, Paracin and Cuprija, representatives of the Agricultural Advisory Service, the Cooperative Union of Sumadija and Pomoravlje, ecological associations as well as the director of the rendering plant "VU Napredak" from Cuprija. Jurisdiction is often divided between the veterinary, municipal and environmental inspectors making it unclear whose competence it is to punish the inadequate management of animal waste and therefore there no fine for such mismanagement was issued for years.

Unfortunately, mismanagement of animal waste is present and even large processors bring only a part of their animal waste to the rendering plant, while bigger part is buried or thrown into nature creating potential risk to a public health. There are only two plants for the treatment of animal waste currently operating in Serbia, one is "Energo Zelena" located in Indjija (Vojvodina) and other "VU Napredak" in Cuprija (Central Serbia).

The participants agreed that it is necessary to encourage the Government of Serbia to preserve both plants and provide investment for the improvement of their operations. “There is no economic profitability in transporting all animal waste to the plant in Indjia”, explained the director of VU Napredak, Mr. Nenad Scepanovic. The question who should bear the cost of adequate disposal of carcasses is the key to sustainable disposal of animal waste. Several proposals were made at the forum, from the suggestion that larger and smaller producers should be separated, and smaller producers should be exempt from payment, to the proposal that all producers who do not have insured animals should bear these costs themselves.

The project "Animal waste and wild landfills - the past of ugly habits!?" is implemented within the framework of the " Green Incubator" project of BOS , with the financial support of the EU and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

2021-2027 Danube Region Program approved

On 29 November 2022, the European Commission officially adopted new transnational cooperation program for the Danube region for the period 2021-2027 worth 266 mn EUR. The Danube Region Program involves 9 EU countries (Austria, 2 German regions: Baden-Württemberg and Bayern, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria) and 5 non-EU countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine). In terms of the number of cooperating countries and regions, this is one of the largest Interreg programs in this programming period, as announced on the website of the Ministry of European Integration of Serbia.

The newly approved program is part of the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) also known as Interreg, which has been an important part of the EU Cohesion Policy since 1990. The intention is that EU countries jointly create projects that will help them solve shared territorial, social and economic problems. According to the Danube Region Program Document, “creating a better institutional platform and transnational cooperation environment for the territorial, economic and social integration” is also the main mission of the Danube Region Program. The main focus of the new program is [GKv3] on thematic areas, which can be effectively addressed by transnational projects (e. g. climate change, water management, economic inequalities, energy dependency).