While cattle breeders in Serbia are lamenting about their rapidly depleting herd, on paper it seems that we have enough meat to export.
On one hand, the state has removed all administrative obstacles for meat export to China, Turkey and Russia, while on the other, cattle breeders in our country are increasingly turning crop farming. Consequently, nothing came off the announced export of meat to China. Experts claim that Serbia does not have enough meat to export and that the situation will not change for better any time soon, because there simply isn’t enough livestock.
Serbia has signed free trade agreements stipulating meat export to several countries, including Turkey. The export quotas for Turkey are up to 5,000 tons of beef a year, while in the case of China, the quota goes up to 500,000 tons of beef and lamb.
Agro-economist Milan Prostran is not too optimistic when it comes to the announced export of meat to China, India and Turkey. He says those destinations are so far away, geographically speaking, that transport costs alone would be exuberant.
“I’ve been following the developments in the Chinese market for quite some time now, and the only thing that we did export were small quantities of seed, which are of high value”, says Prostran and adds: “China is geographically very far away, and on top of that, is the most populated country in the world. We simply don’t have enough capacity to cover their meat demand since livestock breeding in our country is in a serious crisis. It takes at least five years of substantial investing in cattle and pig farming to restore our export capacity like, back in the day, when we exported pork to America or baby beef to the European Union”.
Prostran points out that Serbia barely produces 450,000 tons of meat annually, so the agreement with China, which stipulates export of 500,000 tons of meet per year, is unrealistic. Our country does not even meet the EU quota of 8,780 tons, because the maximum that we have managed to export is 1,500 tons.
(Vecernje Novosti, 12.02.2018)
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