The fact that Serbia loses 25,000 hectares of fertile land each year has been known for a long time. However, solutions to this problem are almost non-existent. Arable land is used for constructing infrastructure and industry, and besides this conversion, the biggest problem is the maximum utilization of humus and reduction of fertility from 4% to 2%.
According to agricultural analyst Branislav Gulan, state land is losing out the most. About 200,000 hectares are not used at all and are deteriorating.
“The state has launched an initiative to give the land that is not cultivated to young farmers to use. Out of a total of 4.1 million hectares of arable land in Serbia, 3.4 million hectares of agricultural land is cultivated. Farms use 6.1 hectares of land on average, while companies have 304 hectares on average. It is not normal that we are losing so much land every year. Each new government assigns arable land for construction in order to get votes in next election. Also, the situation with land irrigation is terrible,” Gulan says.
Agri-economist Milan Prostran is concerned about irresponsible behaviour towards a fertile land. The law says that the agricultural land could be converted for industrial and construction purposes if needed. Although this is happening all over the country, the most worrying situation is with the most fertile land.
“Even the state has not made mandatory for the land user (renter) to return the land in the same or better quality than. The user exploits it to the extent that it becomes infertile. For instance, they rent a piece of land for the period of five years and plant whatever they want on it (wheat mostly), and that’s ruinous,” Prostran warns.
Prostran also says that the state poorly manages about 500,000 hectares of land. He also thinks that the new Law on Agricultural Land or its amendments has to be adopted as soon as possible.
“Agricultural land will continue to be reduced in size, but if we preserve fertility, there won’t be such a negative impact. However, if we use this land for other purposes than agricultural and we devastate it in the process, we have a very dangerous situation at hand. And this is exactly what is happening now,” Prostran adds.
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