Friday, 21 May 2021

Goran Vrabec Best Young Farmer in Croatia

ZAGREB, 21 May 2021 - Goran Vrabec has been named Croatia's best young farmer in 2021, a farmer who owns a family farm in the northwestern region of Zagorje growing chili peppers, and he was presented with the prize by Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Friday.

Vrabec was chosen from among 21 finalists and along with the first prize, he also won a reward of HRK 25,000, donated by Zagrebačka Banka.

Brankica Borović, whose family-run farm business produces natural, dermatologically tested cosmetics based on immortelle and almond oil, won second prize and HRK 15,000, while wine maker Ivan Gerštajmer Zelember won third prize and HRK 10,000.

The competition for the best Croatian young farmer was organised by Croatian member of the European Parliament Sunčana Glavak, the Agriculture Ministry and the Jutarnji List daily.

The finalists will travel to Brussels for a ceremony at which the best EU farmer will be awarded.

Zagrebačka Banka has secured financial education for the young farmers and will assist them in filling out forms for EU funds, while the Konzum retail chain, which is a sponsor of the competition, will sell their products.

Glavak said that the record high number of applicants showed that young people were very interested in staying in Croatia and its rural areas.

She said that it was encouraging that Croatia would have a record-funds amount of funds from the EU at its disposal, which it will be able to use to improve farm production.

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said that Croatia was slightly above the EU average in terms of the number of young farmers, who number 23,228, which is 13.6% of the total number of farmers.

"That is not enough, but the trend is positive and has been rising and we want the share of young farmers to reach 20% with the share of farmers aged above 55 simultaneously going down," she said.

The minister said she was glad that young farmers were increasingly using measures from the Rural Development Programme because it brought structural transformation to rural areas. She noted that agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture could be the real engines of development of Croatia's economy.

Parliament Speaker Jandroković said that he was glad Croatia was above the EU average in terms of the number of young farmers and that he saw hope for development of villages and rural areas in that.

Ample EU funding has evidently helped young people recognise opportunities and realise that country life is often better than life in a city, and that it is possible to make a living from farming, he said.

For more on made in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Best Faculty at Zagreb University: Faculty of Agriculture Scores Highest in NTU Ranking

May 11, 2021 -The oldest university in Croatia is the one in Zagreb, and the best faculty at Zagreb University is the Faculty of Agriculture, according to the NTU global ranking of 800 universities worldwide.

The quality of Zagreb University, according to the global NTU ranking conducted by the National Taiwan University, is in decline. On the list of 800 Universities worldwide, Zagreb University was ranked 478th best in the world, and in recent years it was levitating between 551st and 600th place. But, as Srednja.hr reports, the overall decline of quality has an exception on that list, and it's thanks to the Faculty of Agriculture.

The Faculty is ranked to be the best at Zagreb University, and the area of agriculture on the global list is ranked between 301st and 350th place. That is the ranking of the area, but also under the criteria of research interest, the ranking is even better, 87th place, thus making it the only thing at Zagreb University to be in the top 100 on the list.

„Even though it's the oldest human occupation, agriculture today is light years away from what our grandparents know. Agriculture is part of the STEM area (‘science, technology, engineering & mathematics), and it's actually highly technological. There are several reasons why this sector so is fastly modernized. For starters, the production of food and raw ingredients to produce food is the most important human activity that will always have demand. To keep up the step with the increasing number of population, less and less arable surfaced and the increasing living standards, agriculture had to modernize significantly, and introduce newest technologies“, writes Srednja.hr.

cows_Sveučilište_u_Zagrebu_Agronomski_fakultet.jpg© Sveučilište u Zagrebu Agronomski fakultet

The Agriculture Faculty in Zagreb was founded in 1919. As the Faculty's official website reports, they have over 450 employees today who are highly motivated to pass their knowledge to around 2,500 students, which they consider their greatest value that they add to society.

„By connecting with foreign universities, both from Europe and worldwide, we have international cooperation in both teaching and scientific research area, and student mobility. Successful participation in bilateral and multilateral research programs, exchanges of students, young scientists, and university lecturers, as well as securing scholarships contribute to the visibility and recognition of the Faculty on all levels“, says the Agriculture Faculty.

The Faculty's personnel annually publishes 280 scientific papers, and in the last decade, 160 active research projects are ongoing with 75% of investments coming from domestic sources and the rest from international ones. Scholarships supports, and rewards for the best students are secured through the trust fund the Faculty has.

„It's less known that the Agriculture Faculty is declared a Scientific Centre of Excellence CroP-BioDiv (for biodiversity and molecular plant breeding). It is one of the 10 scientific centers in the STEM area declared in the Republic of Croatia. CroP-BioDiv is a research network of top scientists from all over Croatia directed to the transmission of highly sophisticated knowledge and technologies“, writes Faculty's website concluding their institution is directed towards future with sustainability, quality, research encouragement, scientific excellence, and cooperation with the Croatian economy, as key strategic goals.

As Zagreb is a popular ERASMUS destination among European students because of cheap drinks, rich and vibrant party scene, The Agriculture Faculty shows that apart from partying, the Croatian capital is a place to get some actual learning done. And on a pretty high standard no less, at least when it comes to agriculture which serves as a role model to the rest of the poorly ranked University.

Agriculture is about food, and you can learn more about Croatian food (specifically, vegan and vegetarian options) on our TC page

For more about education in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Croatia Will Get More Money For Agriculture Than Before, State Secretary Says

ZAGREB, 29 April, 2021 - Opposition MPs were not impressed by the announcement by the state secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture that more funds have been allocated for Croatian agriculture in the next EU budget period than in the previous one, saying on Thursday that the situation in this sector was catastrophic.

"The situation in agriculture is catastrophic. The number of producers, milk suppliers, is falling, and there are fewer and fewer products made by our own producers that meet our needs," MP Marina Grman Kizivat of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said, asking about the veracity of the information that Croatia would receive less money from EU funds for agriculture than before.

State Secretary Tugomir Majdak said that there would be more money for Croatian farmers in the period until 2027 than there had been in the period until 2020, adding that in the next budget period €2.6 billion would be available for direct payments, compared to €1.57 billion in the previous period.

The opposition used the proposed amendments to the Agriculture Act to draw attention to key problems in the sector, such as aid.

Željko Pavić (SDP) said that the problem was that aid was granted per hectare. "Some farmers have been granted the lease of thousands of hectares of karst pasture. They earn huge amounts of money without having livestock of their own," he said.

Majdak responded by saying that the state aid scheme was transparent, based on tenders and criteria in accordance with EU rules.

Responding to a question put by independent MP Marijana Petir, Majdak said that work was under way to improve the aid system and gear it towards small farmers.

Small farmers will be the priority of future measures, both the Agricultural Strategy until 2030 and the Strategic Plan until 2027, and other vulnerable groups, such as women in rural areas, will also be included, Majdak said, adding that the strategy is expected to be sent to the government in the second quarter of this year.

"In the next programme period we will ensure that young farmers get 100% support for investments of up to €100,000," he said in response to a question from Ankica Zmajić of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Petir recalled that Croatia should prepare the National Strategic Plan by November, adding that the European Commission had made 13 recommendations for this plan, detected its good points and found that 20% of agricultural holdings owned 75% of farmland and received 77% of aid.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

 

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Strawberry Picking Season Starts in Southern Croatia, 600 Tonnes of Produce Expected

ZAGREB, 15 April, 2021 - Strawberry picking season has begun in the Vrgorac area in southern Croatia and the Vrgorac strawberry association told a news conference on Thursday that this year  600 tonnes of high quality strawberries can be expected from local fields.

Vrgorac high-quality strawberries will already be available at farmers' markets as of tomorrow the association's president Milan Franić said.

According to Franić, about 600 tonnes are expected from this year's yield which will bring in a revenue of HRK 12 million for producers in the Vrgorac area.

"We have good weather conditions and will produce a standard quality. The yield will be high and of good quality for almost all producers however 15 family farms affected by last year's floods in Kokorići will not have any yield this year because the floods destroyed their greenhouse and crops," said Franić.

He added the price of strawberries is HRK 25 (€3.3) per kilogram, which is far below their price in the European Union where their cost ranges from €7 to €10.

"We are happy however that Vrgorac strawberry farmers will generate a revenue of HRK 12 million for the HRK 5.6 million that they invested, which is good for Croatian circumstances. We will continue to invest in improving the quality of our strawberries of which 80% are produced in tunnel greenhouses which protect them from rain, hail and frost and guarantee they are produced without any pesticides" said Franić.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Fruit Growers Fear Huge Damage After Morning Frosts

ZAGREB, 15 April, 2021 - The real extent of damage to orchards due to the unusually cold weather in April with snow and early morning frosts, will only be known in the next few weeks, Croatian Fruit Growers' Association president Branimir Markota told Hina on Thursday.

"We have been in contract with the agriculture ministry during the entire time of low temperatures last week and again last night, and have discussed the possible consequences these unfavourable conditions will have for fruit growers. The real extent of the damage will only be visible in a few weeks and once we know it and depending on the possibilities, we will certainly seek assistance," Markota told Hina.

A huge problem exists because insurance policies do no cover damage caused by frost that occurred prior to 10 April, he said. 

That's something that will be discussed with insurance companies and the ministry which covers 70% of the cost of insurance premiums from Measure 17 of the Rural Development Programme, Markota explained.

Fruit growers usually insure their crops via Measure 17 - Risk management and Sub-measure 17.1 - Insurance of crops, animals and plants.

For more about agriculture in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Friday, 9 April 2021

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković Delivers Three Rural Development Programme Contracts

ZAGREB, 9 April, 2021 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković on Friday presented three contracts from the Rural Development Programme worth HRK 8.5 million to beneficiaries in Jarmina municipality in eastern Croatia.

She also attended the opening of "Jarmina", the first kindergarten in the municipality in which HRK 7 million was invested from EU funds and her ministry's Rural Development Programme. It will be attended by 75 children.

Vučković told the press this was the 12th kindergarten in Vukovar-Srijem County built with funds from the Rural Development Programme, for which HRK 56 million was ensured, adding that 200 kindergartens would be opened in Croatia thanks to over HRK 1 billion from the programme.

The 12 kindergartens have been opened in communities with a population of below 5,000.

Vučković said kindergartens were important for keeping young families in villages, adding that her ministry would soon advertise calls for the construction of more kindergartens, farmers' markets, firehouses and community culture centres.

Last year the Croatian EU presidency secured the support of the member states for a transitional regulation to enable continuity of financing until "the whole common agricultural policy reform is adopted," the minister said, adding that the reconstruction and construction of the social infrastructure in rural areas would continue.

Over €5 billion for Croatian agriculture

Vučković announced that Croatia would receive over €5 billion for agriculture in the EU's 2021-27 budget.

She said 12.9% of Croatian farmers and over 20% in Vukovar-Srijem County were under 41.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

STARS Project Gives Guidelines For €5 Billion Made Available to Agriculture Sector

ZAGREB, 8 April, 2021 - Documents resulting from the Strategic Transformation in Agriculture and Rural Space (STARS) project will help determine how around five billion euros that have been made available for Croatia's agricultural sector will be spent, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said on Thursday.

The Agriculture Ministry and the World Bank cooperated on the STARS project, and the agreement on project cooperation was signed in October 2018.

Analyses, studies and guidelines made during the project have thus been significantly used also in making a draft agricultural strategy for the period until 2030, which has been put to public consultation, and in making a national aquaculture development plan for the period 2021-2027. Both documents are aimed at enhancing the sectors' competitiveness and adapting them to current conditions.

Numerous domestic and foreign experts, sector stakeholders, employees of the Agriculture Ministry and other Croatian institutions and universities cooperated on the project, with Vučković noting that the start of work on the project had coincided with debates about the future of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, which will affect financing priorities and development of agriculture in all member states.

The project served to reexamine the situation and needs of the Croatian farm sector, as well as the measures that are being implemented, and its documents will be used in deciding how the roughly five billion euros intended for Croatian agriculture will be used, Vučković said.

Great chances for development of Croatian farm sector

Project coordinator Svetlana Edmeades of the World Bank said that the World Bank strongly believed that Croatia had great chances for the development of its farm sector.

Farm producers have central place in the project, which identifies as national strategic goals an increase in productivity and in the resilience of farm production to climate change, stronger competitiveness of the agricultural and food sector, revival of rural economy and improving living conditions in rural areas.

Edmeades underlined the importance of knowledge and innovations, noting that the development of Croatia's agriculture should be green, resilient and inclusive, which includes, among other things, production of organic food, sector resilience to shocks, as well as greater involvement of smaller producers in existing value chains.

She said the project achievements were a number of reports that should serve as guidelines for the ministry and farm producers towards a green, resilient and inclusive agriculture.

The World Bank official said that the analyses were expected to significantly contribute to the government's programme with regard to specific targets in the farm sector, in the making of a national agricultural and rural development strategy, participation of agriculture in the national recovery and resilience plan, and national strategic planning within CAP.

Value of agricultural production to be raised to HRK 30bn by 2030 

State secretaries Tugomir Majdak, Zdravko Tušek and Šime Mršić presented the draft agricultural strategy for the period until 2030 and the national plan for the development of aquaculture in the period 2021-2027.

The officials said that the projected effects of the strategy until 2030 were an increase in labour productivity of 60% and the consequent increase in the value of farm production to HRK 30 billion, for which funds in the amount of €7.5 billion were envisaged.

This should be achieved, among other things, by a 35% increase in the number of locally bred fattening pigs, a 20% increase in cattle breeding, expanding areas under permanent crops by 5,000 hectares and areas where crops are grown under glass by 500 hectares, a 20% increase in the share of the food industry in GDP and a 30% increase in the number of producers in short supply chains.

The national plan for the development of aquaculture in the period 2021-2027, which is being made, will put emphasis on stronger competitiveness and the creation of 15% more jobs in the rural and coastal economies in the aquaculture value chain, including an increase in total production volume of 30%, a 35% increase in added value in the processing of aquaculture products, and an increase in the average annual consumption of aquaculture products per capita by as much as 50%, the Agriculture Ministry said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Poreč Strengthens Agriculture with Exciting New Projects

March 24, 2021 - Poreč strengthens agriculture with exciting new projects implemented by the City. 

Last Friday the city of Poreč signed contracts for assigning funds to the agricultural civil societies to help their projects and programs. The continuation of the tradition established in the last two years, Poreč city gave 150.000 kuna to associations Bio Istra and Agro Poreč through a public contest, both for their day-to-day work in agriculture and for the project "Eko! impjantamo ružmarin" (Eco! let's plant rosemary) which includes going to schools and giving pupils unprocessed rosemary to plant in the school. The project is at full speed and even the coronavirus pandemic didn't stop them, as the first phase of the project was done via Zoom.  In the early stages of the project, the goal is to establish cooperation between the only two high schools in Poreč: Mate Balot High School and Anton Štifanić Tourist School.

"We started with the first workshop in preparing rosemary seedlings with the agrotechnical pupils at Mate Balot and we will use it to decorate the garden of Anton Štifanić Tourist School," said Vlasta Radoičić, president of Bio Istra. Her association exists for the past 23 years and is working on the county level, determined to activate as many people as possible to boost family agricultural businesses. 

"Poreč was the cornerstone of eco-agriculture and it needs to remain that today and become a modern teacher of the area", concluded Radojčić.

Poreč is one of the strongholds of Croatian tourism in Istria, but it's also a truly agricultural city. Loris Peršurić, mayor of Poreč not only knows it but strongly supports it. 

"We have a 145-year-old institute for agriculture and tourism as well as a 138-year-old agriculture school, the only one in Istria, which means a lot for our city", said Peršurić. He adds that is precisely why he tries to support and help projects related to agriculture which includes co-financing the Centre for invasive species in common projects and as mayor, hopes to valorize a wine cellar that dates from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy rule and is known today as enoteca (wine library) in the community. "Poreč is the headquarters of famous winemakers and olive oil makers and our agricultural story continues to grow and develop", concludes Peršić.  

The city also finances the project "Apply for Agriculture School - Produce Food and Take Care of the Environment" which resulted in a 50% increase in pupils educating in the school and there are opportunities for pupils to continue education in the field in Poreč too. 

seedling_planting_-c-_Udruga_Bio_Istra.jpg

seedling planting © Udruga Bio Istra

 Local olive treasure

Poreč is also proud of its local olive species Porečka Rosulja, which was first described by a famous local scientist Carlo Hugues 120 years ago. The olive wasn't researched much after that, but today, scientists from the Agriculture and Tourism Institute are out on the field to pursue the described treasure of the Poreč olive scene. Agro Poreč association secretary Zdenko Barac whose organization is dedicated to promoting local agriculture and seedlings distribution is included in this research. He is thankful that the city recognized the importance of Porečka Rosulja and its investment in the "mother field" in Poreč where new seedlings will be prepared for further distribution and for another olive plantation in St. Martin Bay, which will have both educational purposes and will be a nice architectural touch to the landscape of the area. No to mention, a nice dedication to Hugues which first described the species.  

"The number of seedlings is growing. This is the third year of the project where we have 530 seedlings and we started with 170 in 2019", says Barac. The plan is to prepare the best seeding material and apply them to the  Croatian Center for Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.

"There are very few cases in the world where a species is named after city so we can boast about that", concluded Barac.

For more about agriculture in Croatia follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 8 March 2021

Petir: Agricultural Strategy Should Cover Status of Women in Rural Areas

ZAGREB, 8 March, 2021 - The chair of the Croatian Parliament Committee on Agriculture, Marijana Petir, has sent an initiative to the Minister of Agriculture to include activities aimed at improving the status of women in rural areas in the Agricultural Strategy and introduce a special sub-programme for women in rural areas.

Given that the Agricultural Strategy 2020-2030 is in the final stage of preparation, it is important for women in rural areas to be included in it in a separate section. That, in turn, would require preparation of an action plan that would deal with the status of women in rural areas, Petir said on the occasion of International Women's Day.

The plan would, among other things, address such important issues as the "invisible work" of farm women, access to land ownership, achieving economic independence, preventing the risk of poverty and unemployment, and increasing the representation of women in decision-making bodies.

Petir said that the national strategic plan, which is being developed, should include a special sub-programme for women in rural areas as provided for by the EU's common agricultural policy. Such a sub-programme could improve the status of women in rural areas, create jobs for them, help them in investing in physical assets, contribute to the development of farms and their operations, and ensure conditions for basic services and revitalisation of rural areas, she said.

"I hope that these activities will help improve the status of women in the rural areas of Croatia and that their irreplaceable role in sustaining the rural areas will start to be fairly evaluated," Petir said.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Opposition Says Agricultural Production in Ruin

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - During Thursday's debate on amendments to the Agriculture Act, the parliamentary opposition said Croatia's agriculture was collapsing due to poor policies, while Minister Marija Vučković dismissed such claims and said that agricultural production was growing.

Željko Lenart (HSS-HSU) said 33,000 hectares of valuable farmland from the former Agrokor conglomerate was now owned by the foreign Fortenova and that pig farming and milk production were collapsing.

He said the Farmland Act was not being honoured, that a stay on the sale of farmland to foreigners would soon end, and that the smallest farmers were being destroyed because only 6.5% of the biggest producers received the bulk of the aid.

Mišel Jakšić (Social Democrats) said the state of agriculture showed that the policies to date had not produced results because import was high and there was no self-sufficiency despite the potential.

Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) said 88 million tonnes a year was thrown away due to expiration dates and pushed for donating food to the needy and establishing a food bank.

Vučković said cereal production and cattle-framing were up and that food donations had gone up 13%, adding that it was necessary to reduce food waste.

Marijana Petir (ruling HDZ) pushed for regulating the aid system to facilitate the development of small and medium farmers. She announced a call for applications for HRK 120 million to help farmers in earthquake-hit areas.

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