Monday, 4 April 2022

"Biblical" Bird Invasion Devastates Slavonian Fields, Farmers Desperate

April the 4th, 2022 - There is a plague of birds that is biblical in a way taking place over the rich Slavonian fields, with farmers and others in the agriculture sector scratching their heads as to what to do. All common means of deterring the birds are failing, and some are ready to start killing them.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Slavonian farmer Darko Grivicic painfully stated that he feels as if he's walking around in a desert, and not in the usually rich and fertile Slavonian fields.

He sowed an ecological feast last autumn, and now his fields look like the Sahara, reports HRT. All of what he planted has been destroyed and eaten by wild geese and cranes, and there is devastation on all sides. The problem this year, according to Darko, is even bigger because of climate change. Darko's field isn't the only one that was ravaged by wild geese. Berislav Stefancic from Radovanje has had around 50 hectares of young crops consumed by birds.

The birds are omnivorous

“These are mostly omnivorous birds, except for the grey wild goose, which is a herbivore. At the pond, they have a good feeding ground as far as fish, snakes and frogs are concerned, and here is their salad in our fields. They eat mainly winter crops - wheat rapeseed oil and the like. We haven't sown those in this area for the last two years because the damage they cause is terrible,'' said Berislav.

Wild geese come because there are huge fishponds in nearby Oriovac, and an ornithological reserve for spoonbills has been declared there. From year to year, said Iva Ivezic from nearby Radovanje, more and more of these birds come, meaning that the damage to these crops is increasing.

"Every year the problem is getting worse and every time I come to the same question - These birds are protected, but who is working to protect us? This year, an extremely large number of birds have appeared that we can't seem to deter or stop. We can't see how we can solve this problem,'' emphasised Iva.

Farmers on duty, firecrackers, drones - nothing helps

Local farmers have tried everything they can imagine, testifies Josip Culetic from Slavonski Kobas, who has had about 70 percent of his crops eaten by birds. Scarecrows, farmers on duty, he's tried everything. He says that one can be on duty out in the Slavonian fields for 23 hours per day, and when you go home for lunch, the birds arrive and do their damage in the span of just five minutes.

"We've chased them away with drones, but the birds only moved within a kilometre or two. It's a viscious circle, they don’t give up at all. At one point, they gathered and headed for the drone, trying to attack it. They aren't stupid,'' added Berislav Stefancic.

Darko Grivicic added that they threw around a million firecrackers and rockets trying to drive away the birds, but they failed even with that harsher measure. Darko went a step further. For about 20 thousand kuna, he bought and deployed 11 gas cannons, but it didn't help much. He believes that these tenacious birds would get used to even 30,000 cannons.

“When we sow grain, they immediately land and take out the seeds. We put out the scarecrow, we come and stand around, and they're brazenly standing on the scarecrows. They have become immune to all our measures,'' added Iva Ivezic.

Local hunting associations are also powerless because hunting protected birds is prohibited, with the penalties for doing so being absolutely astronomical. Whoever kills such a bird pays a fine of up to 30 thousand kunas Darko Grivicic said that the situation is unsustainable, and so far, the birds have eaten 3 million kuna out of his pocket.

Some are already sick of the damage and are ready to poison the birds

Some local farmers are losing patience. Darko Grivicic testified that people are increasingly threatening to bring poison in from Bosnia, mix it with cereal and corn and scatter it across Slavonian fields.

"Facirol is an agent that can be mixed well into corn or grain and then scattered on the roads. I believe all the geese and cranes would die if they consumed it. The only question is where they die. If they die in the ponds, they'll probably poison the resident fish as well. If someone catches that fish and takes it home there is a possibility that we end up accidentally poisoning people.  But it has to be said that this is an option that some people are ready for, if nothing is done,'' claims Darko.

Slavonian farmers are now busy working on and announcing millions of lawsuits against the state that they claim is doing absolutely nothing to protect its own food producers.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Planting Traditions in Slavonia: What Slavonians Like to Cultivate

4th of April 2022 - From Saint Patrick's Day, which is on March 17, Slavonians usually start planting crops for various reasons - for personal use, animals, and more. The planting season in Slavonia has thus begun, and we're taking a look at planting traditions in Slavonia.

Saint Patrick’s Day doesn’t hold particular importance in Croatia, except for the name day that people with a similar name celebrate. However, in Slavonia, this day marks the start of planting the crops that will be available for harvesting, and furthermore, some of those products will be stored for winter. Crops don’t have to necessarily be planted specifically on St. Patrick’s Day but after that date, people hurry to sow their plants before the rain. Why does it need to be done before the rain? For a simple reason - when rain occurs after sowing, the seeds will swell and the beginning of the growth process is in motion.

That is only the “first round” of the planting since not all plant crops can be immediately be planted. These next vegetables are most common in the “first round of planting”.


A useful vegetable that can be used in many ways and because of its flexibility and endurance during its growth, this plant is unavoidable in Slavonia. Potatoes from Lika are one of the most famous Croatian products. When planting, people make rows in their gardens that are approximately 25 centimeters deep and start putting potato tubers with sprouts, one by one, one foot away from each other (you can measure distance with your foot) and later buried with a hoe. Red and white potatoes are the most prominent ones and are planted for different uses - red potatoes are good for frying and roasting, and white ones are for boiling and cooking. People who don’t have big gardens or lands can also plant on their balconies or small spaces indented for planting.


Onions with potatoes are in the same tier of importance for Slavonians and have mostly the same attributes. Flexibility in its handling in the kitchen and mostly pretty endurable, this crop has many good uses. However, there is a problem that, of course, can be avoided. The danger of rotting is pretty common with this plant (which can be also said for potatoes but in smaller measure) and if not harvested on time, this is an unavoidable problem. Why? Well, when harvested, our ancestors would leave onions on the field to dry but with climate change and far harsher summers, they’re usually put under the canopy or whatever place where the sun isn’t blazing hot. Onions planted in March are usually ready for harvesting in July but even “young” onions are good for use, especially at Easter time.

Carrots and parsley 

An indispensable part of any stew or soup, these two plants are really an important part of planting traditions in Slavonia. It is also harvested in July but has multiple uses besides its root. For instance, parsley’s leaves are put in the meals as a spice and it is present in almost every Slavonian meal - čobanac, gulaš, fiš, and many more. Carrots, on the other hand, can be consumed young as onions - roasted young carrots coated in butter equals a great summer meal. One more plant that can be cultivated in small and closed places.


This plant has, so to say, a mythic reputation in multiple cultures including Slavonia. From having healing attributes for stomachaches, strengthening immunity, and so on, to flexible uses in the culinary world. If any ingredient symbolizes Slavonia, that’s definitely garlic - spicy, strong smell and certainly a food that enhances every meal. Planting is the same as is with onions - bulbs are put in the ground and just gently covered with soil. A very durable plant that can withstand any weather and be usable all year. It can be cultivated anywhere.


Its head is mostly used for meals but the culinary internet revolution discovered newfound use for its leaves. They can be put in the pesto, carbonara, or just a sauce ingredient for extra flavor. Celery heads in Slavonia are used as an ingredient for soups and stews like previously mentioned gulaš and paprikaš. It can be stored for later use and its durable ingredient is why this plant is part of cultivating and planting traditions in Slavonia. In recent years, it's also been used as a juice! Rich with sodium and vitamin A.

Red beet 
Also planted in the first round of planting, red beet has multiple uses and is one of the healthiest ingredients on this list. Its juice is used in the fitness world for strengthening a person's fitness and body. Furthermore, it can lower blood pressure and increase blood flow. Rich with folic acid, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, iron and so many more. Its root in Slavonia is used mostly for winter storage, namely, pickled in glass jars. “Soily” taste and beautiful color make this ingredient an important plant in the Slavonian region.

Peas and string beans

These two at first glance seem the same but they’re not. Even though they’re from the same family of plants (legume or pea family), they can be used in different ways. Stews are probably most common in Slavonia for peas but string beans can also be prepared in salads or roasted with other vegetables. Their issue is that they’re really sensitive and require nonstop care. A great ingredient for various meals.

Those vegetables are most commonly planted in the first spring planting, however, a bit later in the spring season, seeds are replaced by seedlings, young plants that have already sprouted from their seeds. These include tomatoes, cabbage, swiss chard, broccoli, peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, and many more. Cultivating from there needs to be on a higher level since these plants require more care which means more water, fertilizers, and fluids that protect the plants from harmful organisms - parasites. What’s also important to note is the importance of these crops, used and pickled for winter storage. Most common are homemade tomato sauce, pickles, so-called hunting salad, pickled pepper, mild and spicy, and many more.

If we look deeper, planting traditions haven’t changed much in recent decades. Proven methods from our ancestors still work, are even better than the modern ones we encounter today, and still feed generations of people in these areas. Every region in Croatia has its own traditions and that’s what makes Croatia so rich - whenever you go, you can see how Croatian people survived the toughest times and managed to use its resources in the best possible ways. Earth and ground we walk on are still one of the rare things that never let Croatians down and that’s reflected in planting traditions in Slavonia.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Croatian Areas Sown With Cereals in Autumn 2021 Increase 5.8%

ZAGREB, 26 Feb 2022 - The size of the areas sown with crops during the 2021 autumn sowing season in Croatia increased 2.8% to 260,000 hectares, compared to the previous autumn season, according to the data provided by the national statistical office (DZS).

During the 2021 autumn sowing, the areas sown with cereals increased 5.8% on the year.

Broken down by type of cereals, wheat amounted to 67.8% of sown cereals last autumn. It was planted on 160,000 hectares or 10.3% more on the year.

Barley follows with a share of 23.7% , being sown on 56,000 hectares, up 1,8%.

Oilseed rape was planted on 24,000 hectares, down by 20% or by 6,000 hectares fewer than the year before.

The sowing of oilseed rape amounted to 9.2% in the total areas sown with crops during the 2021 autumn sowing season.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Croatian Parliament Adopts Agriculture Strategy 2030

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - The Croatian parliament on Friday adopted the Agricultural Strategy 2030, which aims to increase the value of agricultural output from the present HRK 20 billion to 30 billion annually.

This target is based on average annual growth of between 4.0% and 4.5%, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said during a discussion on this strategic document.

The document provides for the strategic transformation of agriculture and rural areas until 2030. It will serve as a basis for the preparation, implementation and monitoring of all further strategic documents and plans for agriculture and rural development after 2020.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Minister Says Croatia's Agricultural Output On Rise For Five Years

ZAGREB, 17 Feb 2022 - Croatia's agricultural production has not contracted, as data for the first 11 months of 2021 show that both exports and imports increased considerably, with exports increasing faster, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said in parliament on Thursday.

"According to estimates by the national statistical office, Croatia's agricultural output grew at a rate of 8.1% in 2021," said the minister, stressing that the production had been growing for the five past years.

She addressed parliament during the presentation of the government's agriculture strategy up to 2030.

In response to harsh criticism from opposition lawmakers about a deficit in the farm sector, Vučković said that such gap could not be narrowed "with a magic wand" and could be reduced only through investment in boosting competitiveness and productivity.

The plan is to increase agricultural production from HRK 20 billion to HRK 30 billion annually by 2030, which would imply average annual growth of between 4% and 4.5%.

Vučković recalled that the government's €640 million support package to cushion the impact of energy price rises includes a €33.3 million (HRK 250 million) set of measures to help farmers and fishermen deal with increased energy prices.

The HRK 250 million aid scheme includes HRK 200 million for farmers and HRK 50 million for fishermen and will cover 88,000 family farms and 2,000 fishermen.

For more, check out our politics section.


Thursday, 17 February 2022

Government's Agriculture Strategy Inapplicable To Croatia, Opposition Claims

ZAGREB, 17 Feb 2022 - The government's agriculture strategy up to 2030 resulted in a heated polemic in the Sabor on Thursday even prior to the official debate, with the opposition saying that it did not contain anything specific to Croatia and as such was inapplicable, yet the ruling HDZ commended the document.

The opposition called out the government for the agriculture policy, accusing it of not fulfilling the promises it made.

There was a list of your promises and what you would change, but what have you done? Božo Petrov (Bridge) asked, wanting to know what made the strategy specific to Croatia and adding that the government could well have given it to Zimbabwe.

The strategy is inapplicable to Croatian circumstances, Martina Vlašić Iljkić (Social Democratic Party) said.

Independent MP Marijana Petir in the HDZ group said that the strategy is an umbrella document that has been in waiting for 20 years.

The plan is to increase agricultural production to HRK 30 billion a year by 2030, productivity by 60%, and to provide stronger support to young farmers, to increase the number of pigs and cattle domestically bred, build 20 fruit and vegetable distribution centres, Petir went on to say.

Katarina Peović (Workers' Front) was interested to know how agricultural production could be increased from HRK 19 to 30 billion, adding that during Socialism, Croatia produced twice as much food as now.

Marijan Pavliček (Sovereiignists) noted that in the past 20 years Croatia's agriculture sector has been completely devastated and that the strategy is just another dead letter.

Ružica Vukovac (PZH) criticised the document, saying that it does not specify how to renew the cattle fund, nor is there any mention of how to limit subsidies or to regulate the market.

The document doesn't take into account Croatia's variety, from Istria via Dalmatia to Slavonia, MP Emil Daus (Istrian Democratic Party) said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Croatian Baby Beef Exporters Given Access to Japanese Market

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - Croatia's ministry of agriculture, in cooperation with Croatian producers, has ensured the access of Croatian-produced baby beef to the Japanese market, the ministry stated on Monday.

The access has been gained because of efforts and programmes for the eradication and control of major infectious diseases in animals. These efforts enable Croatia to get recognition from the World Organisation for Animal Health (formerly the Office International des Epizooties, OIE) and to prove the equivalency of the system of control of animal health and products of animal origin to the relevant authorities in Japan.

Having access to the demanding Japanese market is also a great reference for Croatian products on other foreign markets, the ministry stated.

The Croatian ministry continues to make efforts, either on its own or in cooperation with the European Commission, to get other markets open to Croatian products.

Thus, in 2021, Croatian fishery products, mixed products and raw and salted skin got access to Israel. Also, Croatia got the green light for exporting milk and dairy products to Libya, sheep and goats to Iran, pet food to Albania, ice cream to Costa Rica and gelatin capsules to Egypt.

Monday, 8 November 2021

Balanced Diet Scheme Expanded to Another 67 Schools, 21,000 Children

ZAGREB, 8 Nov, 2021 - The School Scheme in Croatia programme, which is aimed at promoting a balanced diet and is now in its eighth year, has been expanded to another 67 schools and 21,000 children as well as to another 106,000 children consuming milk and dairy products, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday.

The expansion is the result of a campaign the ministry conducted from October 2020 to October 2021, together with the Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, among schools, suppliers and other state authorities.

The programme promotes EU health policies and includes ensuring fruit and vegetables in primary and secondary schools as well as milk and dairy products in primary schools as additional meals.

In the 2022-21 school year, 803 schools participated in the programme with 49 suppliers and 289,686 pupils, for whom 639.5 tonnes of fruit and vegetables and 312,411 litres of milk and dairy products were utilised.

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Wednesday, 4 August 2021

European Commision Approves Additional HRK 220m in Aid to Croatian Livestock Farmers

ZAGREB, 4 Aug, 2021 - The European Commission has approved an additional HRK 220 million (€29.3m) in aid to Croatian livestock farmers, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. 

HRK 130 million (€17.3m) has been approved under the Animal Welfare Measure of the EU Rural Development Programme, while HRK 90 million (€12m) has been approved for the use of manure on fields.

The Ministry noted that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic it had adopted a number of aid schemes, worth nearly HRK 450 million (€60m) in total, including those for the livestock sector, adding that aid schemes for the poultry and dairy farming sectors were under preparation.

Due to an increase in prices of cereals and other components of livestock feed, at the last meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković called on the European Commission to look into possibilities of granting financial aid to stabilise the livestock sector, as well as other possible mechanisms to ensure the equal treatment of Croatian producers on the global market.

The request was supported by 15 member states, and the Commission is expected to continue monitoring the situation and take any emergency measures as may be necessary, the statement said.

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Friday, 23 July 2021

Damage Caused by Natural Disasters in Farm Sector Ytd Estimated at €68m

ZAGREB, 23 July 2021 - First estimates show that the extent of the damage inflicted on Croatia's agricultural sector so far this year by natural disasters is HRK 509.2 million kuna, the agriculture ministry's reps told Hina on Friday.

These estimates are based on preliminary data collected in the Natural Disaster Damage Registry in compliance with the national legislation on mitigation and removal of consequences of natural disasters.

The ministry underscores that the registry does not contain the final data on the reported damage, or the number o businesses and individuals that have been exposed to the disaster.

The ministry notes that 20 million kuna has been set aside in the budget for mitigation and removal of the consequences of natural disasters this year and that farmers can also apply for aid and funding under the schemes envisaged in the Rural Development Programme.

In addition, the government has already decided to help farmers in the hailstorm-hit Požega-Slavonia County with an additional HRK 20 million.

 Agricultural producers whose perennial plantations have been damaged in disasters can apply for aid under the subsection "Renewal of farmland and production potential" within the Rural Development Programme.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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