The Netherlands Embassy recieves award at Agriculture Advisory Service ceremony in Serbia

IPARD 3 news, a FC guarantee scheme worth $400 million, news of produce export, increasing energy and food prices driving inflation, the economic effects of the rising prices and new restaurants in Belgrade making it into Michelin's fastronomic guide. Our weekly briefing on agriculture, food and nature news in Serbia.

Two menstanding on a stage in an award ceremony. The men are in suits. There is also a woman with a microphone.
Beeld: ©Netherlands Embassy Serbia
On behalf of the Netherlands Embassy, Agriculture Counsellor Koen van Ginneken recieves the award of the Agriculture Advisory Services at the organization's centenary anniversary ceremony in Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia

A century long tradition of Agriculture Advisory Service of Serbia

2022 marks the 100th anniversary of Serbia’s Agriculture Advisory Service. The service has been offering technical advice and necessary knowledge transfer to Serbian farmers for generations. To mark the occasion, the members of the organization met for a two-day conference in Vrnjacka Banja.

The conference started off with a ceremony thanking colleagues and close partners of the Agriculture Advisory Service. Koen van Ginneken, Agricultural Councilor, received a plaque on behalf of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to honor the continued cooperation of the Dutch and Serbian agricultural sectors. Mila Mirkovic, Agricultural Advisor at the Dutch Embassy in Belgrade, also received a plaque to thank her for her efforts in connecting the two countries in this sector for many years now. The US and Canadian embassies also received a plaque on behalf of their countries’ efforts in agricultural cooperation with Serbia.

The second day was marked by a series of presentations and lectures on current developments in Serbian agriculture, such as increasing digitalization, liberalization of the market and increasing trade with foreign countries.

The Dutch Agriculture Counselor, Koen van Ginneken presented restructuring of the Dutch agriculture advisory service over the decades from the state managed service to market driven services. DACOM Farm Intelligence, a Dutch company operating in Serbia, presented their technological innovations in agriculture, such as their mobile application that allows farmers to closely monitor and manage soil conditions on their farm from a distance. 

IPARD 3 more generous for farmers

The first call from the IPARD 3 program will be announced in the spring of 2023, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture announced at a conference organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Vojvodina. It will be opened by the call from measure 1, the most popular measure among local farmers, where support is given for investments in the physical assets of farms: the purchase of machinery, equipment, the construction of farms, greenhouses, the establishment of orchards, vineyards etc.

The next call, for measure 3, which refers to the processing of agricultural products, will be published in the summer, and only in the autumn 2023 a tender for supporting investments in rural tourism (measure 7) can be expected.

DFC guarantee scheme worth $400 million

The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and four Serbian banks signed agreements on a new guarantee scheme worth up to $400 million, with the first credit line to amount to $272 million.

The agreements with ProCredit Bank, Addiko Bank, Banca Intesa and Raiffeisen Bank were signed by DFC Vice President Maryam Khosharay. The signing was attended by Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali, Minister of Agriculture, Jelena Tanaskovic, US Ambassador to Belgrade Christopher Hill and National Bank of Serbia Governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic.

The guarantee scheme will be implemented with support from the Ministry of Finance and the $272 million credit line will go to Serbian SMEs, agriculture businesses, startup development and female entrepreneurship. Agrobusiness sector will receive 21.51% of total credit line.

LIDL-SRB exported €10 million of local produce 

The company Lidl Serbia stated that it had exported domestic products worth €10 million, which stimulated the economy and directly contributed to the growth of Serbia’s GDP. It was pointed out that Lidl had significantly increased the share of domestic items in the assortment of its stores in the country.

Serbian products, as a Lidl brand, have found their way onto the shelves of grocery stores in Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland and Slovakia. “Raw material, such as wheat or sugar, is easy to export because there is a great demand. However, our goal is to use the strength of our retail network and export the final product, the value of which is higher because it includes the work of several related industries in Serbia. This is the way to contribute to the growth of Serbia’s GDP,” said Nikola Balaban, Executive Director of procurement at Lidl Serbia.

Mr. Balaban added that there is an increase for demand of Serbian food abroad, but only if it’s above average and constant quality, from the first to the last pallet. Lidl Serbia has ensured that almost 100 Serbian producers obtain the IFS certificate, which is an important prerequisite for exporting to Europe, the statement reads. The company Lidl, as part of the German Schwarz Group, opened its first stores in Serbia in October 2018 and currently has 65 sales facilities in 37 cities.

Rise in food and energy prices accounts for 70% of inflation

The y-o-y November inflation of 15.1% is in line with the expectations of the National Bank of Serbia (NBS), the central bank announced and stated that the increase in food and energy prices still accounts for close to 70% of inflation. Compared to the same month of the previous year, food prices were higher in November by 22.5%. The monthly growth in food prices amounted to 1.2% in November.

As far as the prices of energy products go, they rose by 1.2% on an m-o-m in November, which was equally contributed by the increase in the prices of oil derivatives by 1.5% and solid fuels by 2.8%. Core inflation, i.e. the consumer price index excluding food, energy, alcohol and cigarettes, is still significantly lower than headline inflation and was 9.7% in November, said NBS.

Prices of agricultural and fishery products in October 2022 increased by 30 percent compared to the same month last year, announced the Statistical Office of Serbia (RZS). Observed by main product groups, the greatest impact on price growth was recorded for grain (34.2%), livestock and poultry (36.1%) and livestock products (80%).

Agricultural and fishery products rose in price by 2.7% on average in October 2022 compared to September 2022, with the largest impact on this price increase recorded in the group of livestock products by 16.5%. The prices of these products in the period January-October increased by 25.2% compared to the same period last year, and the greatest impact on price growth was recorded for grain (35.1%), livestock and poultry (26.7%) and livestock products (28.1%).

What will be more expensive in 2023?

After electricity and gas become more expensive as from January 1, 2023, everything else will become more expensive, primarily food, raw materials and services, thus living costs for consumers in Serbia will increase by at least one-fifth, according to local experts, reports the daily Danas.

Energy experts think that the EU's decision to ban the transit of Russian oil to third countries (transported by the sea), will affect the growth of prices of oil derivatives. The embargo, which entered into force on December 5, 2022, prevents Serbia from using Russian oil. Instead, the country will have to find an alternative, mostly from Iraq, but at higher prices, which will increase the price of "black gold" in the refinery of Petrol Industry of Serbia (NIS) in Pancevo.

Michelin includes three more Belgrade restaurants in its guide

The company Michelin has included three more restaurants from Belgrade in its gastronomic guide 2023, making the total of 17 of restaurants on the list. Next year, Metropolitan Grill restaurant, Sky Lounge  and Vingt-Deux, located on the 10th floor of the Metropol Hotel, will be part of the Michelin guide. In addition to these three new addresses, all the restaurants included in Michelin Guide 2022 will remain on the list.

“Despite the difficulties caused by COVID-19 for the catering & restaurant industry and international tourism, Belgrade has demonstrated its adaptability and continues to move forward. Our teams of inspectors were delighted by the high-quality dishes served in the recommended restaurants, with a culinary offer characterized by modernity and variety, but also a focus on local culinary traditions,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guide.

Prices of catering services increased by 15%

The prices of catering services in Serbia rose by about 15% in November, compared to the same period last year, stated the Statistical Office of Serbia (RZS). Food in catering facilities rose in price by a total of 15%, of which the biggest price increase was recorded for salads (19.4%) and stews (18.9%).

The prices of hot and cold appetizers were higher by 18.1% compared to November 2021. Ready-made dishes were more expensive by 10.2%, and roast & dishes to order by 15.3%. Alcoholic beverages in catering facilities were 13.9% more expensive compared to last year, according to the report. The prices of overnight accommodation were higher by 17.2% compared to November last year, stated RZS. The research covered about 40 types of catering services, meals, drinks and accommodation. Prices are monitored in 96 catering facilities in Serbia.

Dear Reader,

This is our last Serbia briefing for 2022. The Agroberichten Buitenland Hungary and Serbia pages will be going on hiatus for the holiday period. We will be back in January with our regular news reporting - Until then, stay tuned!

The LAN Hungary & Serbia team would like to wish you happy holidays and a prosperous, happy new year.