Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković: Primary tobacco production has a future in Croatia

ZAGREB, 21 Sept, 2021 - Despite the big risks in the sector - shortage of labour force, age structure and health - primary tobacco production has a future in Croatia, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said on Tuesday at the 21st Tobacco Fields Day, held near Virovitica.

Minister Vučković said that tobacco production is valuable and that in Croatia it has its organisers, relatively secure purchase, the possibility of processing and a closed cycle to the production of almost finished products, which any country would support.

Besides income support, we will endeavour to support all investment initiatives through the rural development programme, said Vučković. She added that the government and ministry advocate retaining support at all levels in the European Union, specifying that an envelope valued at HRK 42 million is envisaged for the tobacco sector, the same as last year.

The Hrvatski Duhani company, which organised Tobacco Fields Day, has 360 producers in Podravina and Slavonia who cultivate 2,700 hectares of tobacco land.

The total annual value of buying tobacco amounts to about HRK 90 million and tobacco is one of the rare agricultural cultures with which Croatia has high competitiveness and a significant production at the EU level, given that Croatia produces about 5% of the EU's total tobacco production.

President of the management board at Hrvatski Duhani Imad Ud-Din Muhammad said that the company was one of the first to introduce sustainability in agriculture in Croatia, which has now been strengthened at the BAT Group level.

We are additionally strengthening investments in environmental protection, health and safety within the entire supply chain, he underscored.

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Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Croatian Agriculture Minister, Chinese Ambassador Discuss Pork Exports to China

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković has held an online meeting with Chinese Ambassador Xu Erwen to discuss ways of speeding up the procedure to obtain veterinary certificates and possibilities for pork exports to China, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The agricultural cooperation with China has intensified since 2006, and thanks to the China+17 initiative and the efforts by the Agriculture Ministry, the protocol on veterinary and public health requirements for dairy products intended for export from Croatia to China was signed in 2019, removing the obstacles to the sale of Croatian dairy products on the Chinese market.

Vučković mentioned Croatian requests towards the Chinese competent authority (GACC) regarding veterinary certificates for pork and pork products, fresh and frozen tuna, honey, beef and poultry, notably the export of tuna, pork and pork products from Croatia to China.

The Croatian ministry is in close communication with the GACC and Croatia is a step closer to getting a positive assessment as a country allowed to export pork and pork products to China, the statement said.

In 2020 the GACC was notified that the World Organisation for Animal Health had recognised Croatia as a country officially free of classic swine fever.

Between 2011 and 2020, with Croatia's entry into the European Union, Croatian agricultural and food exports to China increased ninefold, while at the same time imports from China decreased by more than double. In 2020 alone, the value of agricultural and food exports to China increased by 52% compared with 2019, to nearly €7 million.

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Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Marija Vučković Takes Part in Informal Meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers

ZAGREB, 7 Sept, 2021 - The agriculture strategy envisions further investment in public services in rural areas, with an emphasis on digitisation, irrigation, renewable energy production and increasing energy efficiency, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said at an informal meeting of EU ministers.

In order to succeed in that, it is essential to continue investing in human capital, the minister stressed.

Minister Vučković was taking part in an informal meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, which was held in Kranj, Slovenia on Monday and Tuesday. The Agriculture Ministry reported on Tuesday that the central topic of the meeting was strengthening dialogue between urban and rural areas in the EU, with an emphasis on possibilities for their further development.

The long-term vision for the EU's rural areas up to 2040 aims to reverse negative trends affecting rural areas, including depopulation, population ageing and the decline in attractiveness of rural areas as places to live. The vision brings together several policies that go beyond the common agricultural policy (CAP) and require a more integrated and coordinated approach at the EU, national and regional level, the press release says.

In order for the process aimed at strengthening rural areas to succeed, it is necessary to continue investing in human resources, Minister Vučković stressed.

We have to provide funds for investments and help young people to realise their business goals in rural areas and respond to challenges by creating added value, she said.

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Thursday, 19 August 2021

"Proven Quality - Croatia" Label Soon to be Introduced for Local Food Products

ZAGREB, 19 Aug, 2021 - The agriculture ministry strongly supports fruit growers in efforts to cut production costs and standardise their products and thus boost their competitiveness, which is why the ministry will soon kick off a system of awarding the "Proven Quality - Croatia" label, the ministry said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Minister Marija Vučković and other officials held a meeting with fruit growers  to inform them of the national system designed by the ministry for awarding the above-mentioned label to food products that meet certain requirements. The national system of evaluation of the quality of food products intends to improve competitiveness of local agricultural produce and food products and intensify their promotion.

This will be conducive to better recognisability of those products in retail chains, according to the ministry.

The ministry notes that the reforms as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan envisage the establishment of a logistical infrastructure in fruit and vegetable production and the construction of logistics and distribution centres for fruits and vegetables.

The Croatian Fruit Growing Association assesses that in 2021, the production of apples will reach 65,000 tonnes, the ministry said in a press release, among other things.

The apple export has jumped by 71% year-to-date in comparison to the corresponding period of 2020, while import has increased by 3..2%.

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Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Croatia Satisfied With CAP Reform, Says Agriculture Minister

ZAGREB, 29 June, 2021 - Croatia can be satisfied with the agreement on key issues from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package because it takes into account its most important demands, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

At a two-day meeting in Luxembourg, EU agriculture and fisheries ministers on Monday confirmed the agreement on the reform of the CAP, reached with the European Parliament last week.

Vučković said Croatia was glad its most important demands had been taken into account, concerning the treatment of areas with natural constraints, animal welfare and certain exemptions and flexibility regarding small farmers.

The new CAP rules, to be in force from 2023 to the end of 2027, oblige member states to respect the social and labour rights of agricultural workers, encourage farmers to apply greener farming practices, envisage incentives for smaller farms and young farmers and advocate making financial support to farms more conditional on their results and performance.

Now that political agreement has been reached on the new CAP, the path is clear for both legislative institutions, the Council and the Parliament, to formally vote the new rules in.

The ministers also reached agreement on a control regulation that refers to fisheries.

Vučković said that monitoring and control in the fisheries sector were very important and that Croatia had made significant progress in recent years, notably regarding the application of innovations and new technologies in control and monitoring.

She commended the Croatian fisheries sector for undergoing a very important and difficult transformation, underlining the need to preserve the country's fishing resources, fishing fleet, small fishermen and their traditional way of life.

Vučković also called at the Luxembourg meeting for the continuation of support to wine makers, beekeepers and fruit and vegetable farmers.

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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)

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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.

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