It was recently revealed that Serbia imports beans from faraway China, although it is widely known that Serbia is a substantial bean producer.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, peppers, garlic, and onions are also imported. These are all vegetables that used to be produced in Serbia in sufficient quantities for domestic consumption. Serbia also used to always export the said vegetables. Today, however, even though we continue to export them, at the same time we import the same vegetables in much larger quantities.
The latest milk shortage opened Pandora’s Box of problems in agriculture and exposed the difficult situation that Serbian agriculture finds itself in. There is no milk on shop shelves, the Serbian government is introducing new measures, limiting prices and banning exports, and farmers say that the alarm has been raised a long time ago and that the current situation is only a consequence of this.
“Milk production is not the only problem. Everything is a problem,” says Milan Milošević, a farmer from Rača near Kragujevac, one of the founders of the Association for the Protection of Farmers.
The recently formed working group of farmers from all over Serbia has requested an urgent meeting with the line ministry. If the meeting does not take place, they will take to the streets in protest.
“The agricultural policy is wrong on all levels and we are in big trouble. It is no longer a question of what we import or banning the export of our produce. We are all at risk – fruit and vegetable growers, livestock breeders, farmers (both small and medium)… Buyout prices are also a problem, as is fuel price, state subsidies, and machinery we use,” he underlines.
Milošević adds that the state is falling behind with subsidies and that no subsidy has been paid ‘since last year’.
“The problem is not us, the problem is the bad policy implemented by the state,” he says. “If the Ministry of Agriculture and the entire state leadership do not accept our proposals and do not start solving the problems they themselves have caused, we have no choice but to take to the streets.” Are farmers to blame for milk import? Of course not,” says Milošević categorically, stressing to the authorities that ‘this is the last chance for the government to get serious and start doing something concrete’.
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