The EU assists Serbia in its endeavour to align with EU polices. Agriculture has received more than EUR 150 mil. to date. Of this, close to 100 million under IPA alone i.e. since 2007.
For the period 2014-2020 IPARD (Pre-accession assistance program in the area of agriculture and rural development) is the flagship programme with an EU commitment of € 175 mil. complemented by another EUR 55 mil. of national co-financing. The recipients of this overall EUR 230 mil. are directly the farmers. Serbia decided to implement the following 6 measures under the IPARD programme:
- Investments in physical assets of agricultural holdings
- Investments in physical assets concerning processing and marketing of agricultural and fishery products
- Agri-environment-climate and organic farming measure
- Implementation of local development strategies – leader approach
- Farm diversification and business development
- Technical assistance
Borka Savanović from Jabučje has been a farmer all her life. In order to produce quince in a six-hectare field, she needed a tractor. Through the IPARD funding, the European Union reimbursed 40% of her expenses. In the future, even more quince will be produced in this village thanks to the new tractor.
Pere Benčik from Gornji Tavankut has for four decades bred livestock and cultivated corn, wheat, soy and alfalfa. Maintaining such a large farm will in the future be easier for him thanks to two trailers and two balers. Sixty percent of the cost of the machinery was reimbursed from the IPARD fund. “I could never afford the machinery if it weren’t for that assistance,“ says Pere.
Sweet sour cherry from Srem
Dragiša Kovačević from Ruma had planted 2,000 cherry trees. He had trouble finding seasonal workers so he decided to tackle the issue with machinery. He bought an automatic fruit picker and had a half of his expensive reimbursed by the EU through the IPARD programme. “This was my first harvest using the machine. The harvesting took less time and was smoother as the machine made no damage to the trunks,” Dragiša says happily.
The Bagić family has for years bred cattle and produced milk. To feed the animals, they cultivate a number of crops. New telescopic loader, which has been partially paid by the EU through the IPARD programme, will be of great assistance for them. The machine bales the hey, lowering the bales from the up until recently unimaginable height of 30 metres. “We had a machine which broke down a lot, slowing the entire process down. So we decided to buy a new one and it solved all of our problems,“ the Bagić family explains.
These modernization measures of Serbia's agriculture, where support is ranging from 50% to 80% of the value of the investment, are expected to mobilize up to EUR 400 mil. in total investments in the sector during the period in consideration.
IPARD program is implemented under indirect management, it means the Serbian authorities had to set up a complex implementation structure ensuring full transparency of the allocated financial resources and have the full responsibility for their allocation.. This implementation system is regularly assessed by the European Commission. In the first round, the Serbian authorities achieved the accreditation of two measures (Measure 1 – investments in physical assets of agricultural holding and Measure 3 - investment in physical assets and investment in marketing and processing of agricultural products) in early 2018. First calls for farmers were published subsequently.
In the second round Serbia applied for the accreditation of M7 - Farm diversification and business development and M9 - Technical assistance in November 2019 with a positive answer from the European Commission received in March 2020. First call for submission of application under M7 was launched on 8 June 2020.
Twenty million euros or 2.3 million dinars—these are the funds allocated by the European Union for the development of rural…