Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Agriculture Ministry Awards 33 Rural Development Programme Contracts

ZAGREB, 13 April 2022 - The Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday awarded 33 contracts worth over HRK 65 million from the Rural Development Programme.

Minister Marija Vučković said the aid focused on those transforming agriculture by increasing productivity and capacity as well as using new technologies.

We are also focused on improving living conditions in small local communities, she added.

Higher food prices

Asked by the press about higher food prices, Vučković said inflation started being higher than expected last year already and that the government responded promptly, notably in cattle breeding, which she said was the first sector to feel the inflation in terms of fodder price hikes.

"Inflation has continued this year and we can no longer say that it is transitory", she said, adding that inflation has picked up also due to the war in Ukraine.

Inflation "is first and foremost driven by energy prices", but it manifests considerably in food prices as well, the minister said.

She recalled that the government adopted a set of measures worth HRK 4.8 billion to mitigate energy price hikes and said that, if necessary, it would adopt additional measures to ease the blow to purchasing power and to reduce the risk of any kind of poverty.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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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, 10 February 2022

Agriculture Minister Talks Bluefin Tuna Farms After European Commission Letter of Notice

ZAGREB, 10 Feb 2022 - Farm Minister Marija Vučković said on Thursday the European Commission's call on Croatia to ensure an effective monitoring, control and inspection of bluefin tuna farms referred to audits from 2017-19 and that Croatia had since significantly improved its agriculture legislation.

"Croatia has two months to prepare a response. We'll see if the Commission will recognise all that we have done. I think we have done plenty," the minister told the press in Sveti Đurđ in Varaždin County.

As part of this month's infringements package, Croatia received a letter of formal notice after an audit and verification by the Commission "identified serious shortcomings in monitoring the transfer and caging operations of bluefin tuna."

"National authorities should ensure that data are cross-checked, accurate and validated, and should investigate potential non-compliance cases and take administrative or criminal measures against those responsible for infringing EU law," the Commission said, adding that Croatia "has not taken the necessary steps to address these deficiencies."

Croatia has two months to respond to the letter and take the necessary measures, the Commission said, adding, "In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion."

The press asked Vučković to comment on fisheries inspector Marko Pupić Bakrač's statement after the letter of notice, that she should resign or the prime minister should replace her.

The minister is meddling in the work of the inspectorate and telling us what to do, while documents on tuna imports in Croatia are being falsified, he said.

As reported by Slobodna Dalmacija daily, Pupić Bakrač said Croatian tuna farmers were being favored by being made to register tuna imported from Libya only after they exported it to Japan.

Meetings on that are held at the Agriculture Ministry, attended by a dozen ministry employees, and the minister, in agreement with farmers, tells inspectors how to act, he said, calling it abuse of office. He also warned about suspicious activities in the unloading of forage fish intended for tuna farms.

Vučković said Pupić Bakrač was "lying incredibly. He claims that I regularly met with farmers and fisheries inspectors to instruct them on how to conduct fisheries inspections. He's lying... I have never done it. Let him find one inspector or one farmer who will back him up."

She also said proceedings had been instigated against Pupić Bakrač at the Civil Service Tribunal "for violating regulations" and that this was not the first time.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Croatian and Kosovo Agriculture Ministers Meet in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 9 Feb 2022 - Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković met with Kosovo's Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, Faton Peci, in Zagreb on Wednesday to discuss ways of intensifying cooperation in agriculture.

The meeting took place as part of a three-day visit by a Kosovo delegation, and the ministers agreed to update the 2008 memorandum of understanding in the coming period.

Kosovo is actively preparing to obtain the status of an official candidate for European Union membership and would appreciate a further exchange of knowledge and experience with Croatian experts in agriculture and forestry, the Croatian ministry said in a statement, adding that there is a possibility for joint projects through the TAIEX technical assistance programme or through twinning programmes.

Peci invited Vučković for an official visit to Kosovo.

Kosovo is interested in Croatian companies investing in its agricultural and food sector, and in this context, the possibility of organising a meeting between business people during the Croatian minister's visit to Kosovo was mentioned.

Peci also showed an interest in Croatian expertise in the use of biomass and the construction of power plants, as well as in heating and electric power production.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Vučković Presents New Contracts in Sisak Under Rural Development Programme

ZAGREB, 31 January 2022 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković presented farmers in Sisak-Moslavina County on Monday with four new contracts for aid from the Rural Development Programme for local projects.

Vučković said that projects worth HRK 1.18 billion had been agreed so far for this county and that most of this amount had been paid out. She said that this had helped farmers maintain and develop their production during the times of the coronavirus pandemic and earthquakes.

An additional HRK 1.2 billion in aid has been paid out from other programmes since 2014, which makes it a total of HRK 2.4 billion, the minister stressed.

Vučković said that new measures for Sisak-Moslavina County were also in the pipeline, including a further HRK6.5 million "to encourage new demographic trends", and additional aid to help farmers cope with increased costs due to the rise in energy and mineral fertilizer prices.

Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Ivan Celjak said he was confident the ministry would continue to be a partner to the farmers in repairing the earthquake damage, increasing production and marketing their products.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Ministry Proposes €4m Aid Scheme for Sugar Beet Farmers

ZAGREB, 24 Oct, 2021 - The Croatian Ministry of Agriculture put a HRK 30 million (€4m) aid scheme for sugar beet producers to public consultation earlier this week.

The scheme will provide financial support to sugar beet farmers facing a slowdown or complete suspension of economic activity caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It should help them recover from losses, provide liquidity, restore the pre-pandemic level of primary production, maintain the present level of employment and prevent disruptions to the food supply chain. 

The ministry said that the pandemic has hit hard nearly all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, and that in the case of cropland it has resulted in a strong decrease in areas sown with sugar beet.

Only 10,200 hectares of land was sown with sugar beet in the pandemic years 2020 and 2021, down by 20.3 percent compared with the pre-pandemic average for 2018-2019 and by nearly 48 percent compared with 2017.

The value of the scheme is HRK 30 million (€4m) and the entire amount will be provided from the state budget. The aid will be allocated in accordance with the Temporary COVID-19 Framework, the ministry said.

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Saturday, 16 October 2021

Strategy Envisages €7.5 Billion of Investments in Agriculture in Next 10 Years

ZAGREB, 16 Oct, 2021 - Agriculture and the energy industry are the two main sectors enabling each society and state to function normally, and therefore in the next decade, €7.5 billion will be invested in the agricultural sector, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Zagreb on Saturday.

Addressing an Agriculture Ministry event dedicated to promoting farming, fisheries and forestry, the Prime Minister said that his cabinet spared no effort to help agricultural producers, the food and timber industries and the fisheries.

The government has sent to the parliament a draft strategy on agriculture, and the document, which should be adopted this year, envisages investments in agriculture of some €7.5 billion in the next decade, which should help the Croatian agricultural sector to reach the target of HRK 30 billion (€4 billion) of annual production.

During the term of this government, over a score of state aid schemes have been designed and mostly implemented, and their value is estimated at €253 million, provided from the state budget, Plenković said, recalling prompt interventions to address market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis and natural disasters.

In the livestock sector, nine measures and schemes are being implemented in response to problems caused by the COVID-19 crisis, and HRK 450 million has been made available as part of the government's aid schemes, he said, adding that an HRK 163.5 million scheme is in the pipeline to help businesses affected by fodder price rises.

From 2016 to 2019, state grants amounted to HRK 11.1 billion, and in 2020, HRK 3.2 billion was disbursed as state aid, the PM said.

The Rural Development Programme has made HRK 22.8 billion available to beneficiaries, and of that amount 18 billion has been contracted, and 13.8 billion has been disbursed for investments in agriculture, the PM told the event.

The fisheries branch has been provided with HRK 2.3 billion in grants within the Operational Programme for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and to date more than 1.2 billion has been disbursed.

Plenković went on to say that the government has increased outlays for investments in food safety and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan envisages the provision of infrastructure for a food bank and for participants in the food donation chain. This is one of the important reforms, worth HRK 32 million, he said.

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said that the aim of the strategy would be to increase the output in the agricultural sector to HRK 30 billion annually until 2030.

The implementation of the strategy will require €7.5 billion, and the government plans allocations for this purpose in the amount of five billion euros until 2027 through the multiannual financial framework, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the state budget, she explained.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

 

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