Is it profitable to do agriculture in Serbia?

Agriculture in Serbia has been on shaky legs for many years and the dissatisfaction of small agricultural producers has been constantly growing.

Generating profit is possible, but the path to it is burdened by time and social obstacles. Farmers in Serbia are often in an unenviable position, so every now and then they demand to meet with the relevant Ministry, they hold protests and block roads.

At the moment, dairy farmers are angry about unpaid subsidies and milk imports. Furthermore, raspberry growers are threatening to stop production because they are not satisfied with the purchase price. Livestock in Serbia has been declining for a decade.

According to the 2023 agricultural census, there were 508,365 agricultural holdings in Serbia, or 10 percent less compared to the 2018 survey, but the number of agricultural companies increased by 24 percent to 2,042.

Compared to 2018, the number of available and used land was reduced by about 20 percent, while the number of agricultural workers also fell by 14 percent.

The average age of the head of a family farm is 60 years, while every 11th head of a farm is under 40 years old. Generating substantial profit from agriculture is primarily reserved for big companies.

Bojan Stanić from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) says that farming is a much more efficient production system than cattle breeding and that is why it is more profitable. According to him, farming is more profitable when we talk about large companies than cattle breeding. “On the other hand, in small businesses, it is easier in animal husbandry and meat production to position yourself in the market and find your place, because farming requires greater economies of scale,” he explains.

Stanić adds that the situation often changes. “Serbia’s most important export products are cereals such as wheat and maize, but on the other hand, there is a problem with sugar beet. It is losing efficiency and all sugar plants in the region and most of Europe are in trouble, while sugar beet plantations are decreasing everywhere,” he says.

In addition to cereals, he adds, Serbia is known as a big fruit exporter, but even that is becoming more difficult. “We have problems in fruit production itself. It has become increasingly difficult to export apples to the Russian market, as well as to export raspberries to France and Germany,” he says and adds that the new fruit varieties are not being developed.

“It is possible to organize a agribusiness in the direction of organic food production, which is becoming increasingly popular with more people having money to buy organically grown produce. This is one of the possibilities, but we cannot say that it is a sure path to success,” says Stanić.

(Biznis i Finansije, 05.06.2024.)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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