It’s been two and a half years since the German meat producer Toennies and Serbian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding, and Toennies has not built a single pig farm, out of the planned 20, in Serbia as yet.
Back in July, the company was given a land plot near the village of Banatski Despotovac. The government leased out this plot, spanning 2,420 hectares, to a period of 30 years, and this was supposed to be the first location for the first of the 20 aforementioned pig farms. However, not everything has been going according to plan.
In April 2015, the then Economy Minister, Zeljko Sertic and a Toennies representative, Daniel Notbrok signed the Memorandum of Understanding. Back then, Aleksandar Vucic, who was the prime minister, confirmed that the company’s plan was to breed three million pigs annually, while Toennies announced that it would open five pig farms during the initial stage which would be located in Pancevo, Vrsac, Zitiste, Zrenjanin and Kikinda (all in Vojvodinian county of Banat).
In 2016, Clemens Toennies visited Serbia and met with Aleksandar Vucic, who was already presidential candidate at that point. On the occasion, the German businessman said that his team “is working on drafting projects for 10 farms in Serbia”, and added that he “has come to Serbia not to push out Serbian farmers, but to boost the production and export of pork”. Toennies also announced a 300-million-EUR investment in the next five years.
Despite pompous announcements, no contract was signed in June or at a later date. In late 2016, Agriculture Minister, Branislav Nedimovic reassured that the cooperation with Toennies was developing fine, and the first pig farms would be built in Banat County.
Agricultural analyst, Milan Prostran says that the problem with Toennies, apart from waiting too long for the company to invest, was that nobody knows what kind of equipment is the company going to bring with it, as well as what kind of genetic material. Also, it is a big unknown which kinds of pig is Toennies going to breed here and what exactly the investment entail (an abattoir or a fodder factory).
“There are so many questions that are left unanswered. In the end, what we found out that they (Toennies) don’t even have their own production but are relying on their suppliers. I am quite wary of such investors”, Prostran adds.
(021.rs, Danas, 14.11.2017)
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