Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Electronic Agricultural Card ePI to Be Introduced for Farmers

ZAGREB, March 11, 2020 - Every farmer in Croatia can apply for an ePI electronic agricultural card, an official document issued by the Ministry of Agriculture to take farmers into the digital era and future online services, the ministry said on Wednesday.

The card will enable farmers to conduct administrative procedures simply and quickly from home.

The ePI will replace all existing cards that farmers have used until now.

One of the advantages of the new card is that it enables applications for support in the AGRONET system to be conducted online, which will relieve the administration system of the Agency for Payments and cut the time required to process applications.

The first issue of ePI cards will be free of charge, the ministry noted.

The ePI can also be used to access the e-citizens system and the services it provides such as applications for birth certificates, pension applications, health insurance applications and tax returns etc.

"The e-agriculture card is a step toward introducing farmers to the digital era and future online services. The card offers several benefits and has a high level of security, one of the most advanced on the market," Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković underscored.

The ministry recalled that along with the introduction of the ePI, it is working on new systems.

The Farmers' Register will connect the ministry, the Agency for Payments and the Croatian Agency for Agriculture and Food, which will improve the exchange of information and facilitate procedures for farmers, while the Agriculture Reports Management System will create the basis for analyses, controls and reporting as well as providing a single overview of farms and farmers in Croatia.

The GeoPortal of farm system is a one-stop site where farmers and the interested public can view physical data and information regarding agriculture that is organised based on theme areas, the ministry said in its press release.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 21 February 2020

MEPs Urge Agriculture Minister to Stop Illegal Captivity of Bears in Croatia

ZAGREB, February 21, 2020 - Fifteen members of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals have appealed in a letter to Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković to ensure that Croatia implements the Animal Protection Act and puts an end to illegal captivity of brown bears.

The Croatian association Friends of Animals said on Friday that the Dutch MEP and chairwoman of the intergroup, Anja Hazekamp recalled in the letter to Minister Vučković that in October 2017 Croatia adopted the Animal Protection Act which bans holding and showing bears outside registered zoological parks and shelters, which included a transition period until 31 December 2018, warning however that bears continue to be illegally held in captivity in Croatia.

Two brown bears are still being held captive as a tourist attraction at the Macola restaurant in Korenica, on the road to the Adriatic coast, in a pound that is not registered either as a zoological park or as an animal shelter, which constitutes illegal captivity under the law and the relevant authorities have not ordered their confiscation.

In addition to the two bears in Korenica, another bear is being kept by a family in Rušćica.

The Croatian association supported the MEPs and called for the immediate relocation of the bears to be shelters.

The MEPs also warned of the need to protect other wildlife, including big cats.

More news about animals in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Croatian Quality Label to Highlight Best in Agriculture and Food Production

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes on the 21st of February, 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture also emphasises that a system of encouraging the entry of as many Croatian producers as possible will be established, which will meet the prescribed conditions for the new Croatian quality label.

The Ministry of Agriculture is launching the launch of a new Croatian quality label for agricultural and food products, on which it will state: Proven quality/Dokazana kvaliteta.

The intention is to distinguish higher quality Croatian products and make them more recognisable. These products will come from certain sectors from the production and processing of milk, meat, fruits and vegetables, oilseeds, flour and sugar, honey, eggs, olives to fisheries and aquaculture. In doing so, this new Croatian quality label, of which the European Commission (EC) has been notified, will also be able to be worn by interested manufacturers from other EU countries.

The Ministry of Agriculture also stressed that a system of encouraging the entry of as many Croatian producers as possible will be established in order to better market their value-added products on the extremely demanding EU market.

The news of the new Croatian quality label has also caused confusion since there are already a number of similar types of quality labels present in Croatia. The Ministry of Agriculture has already issued several such labels - the designation of origin, the designation of geographical origin, and the traditional specialty guaranteed, and last year, mountain product labels were also introduced.

For more than twenty years, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) has been developing recognisable ''Croatian Quality'' and ''Original Croatian'' labels, and the Croatian Agricultural Agency (HPA) awards six food labels for Croatian farms, namely in the meat, milk, honey, eggs, bread and flour segments.

According to the latest data, these Croatian quality labels are worn by a total of 831 manufacturers. The Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds deals with the labeling of quality island products, so far they have been awarded to 324 Croatian manufacturers from 26 islands for 1,121 products. Today, HGK's quality labels are worn by 206 products and 25 services, or 144 companies, and these are mostly large companies.

However, due to the tender from the Ministry of Economy, which runs until June the 29th, 2020, there has been a visible increase in applications submitted by small and medium-sized companies, which can secure the acquisition of these Croatian quality labels through grants with the use of non-refundable EU funds. In the food product segment, 43 companies have Croatian quality labels from HGK.

''Proven quality/Dokazana kvaliteta'', as they point out from the Ministry of Agriculture, will be a unique mark of Croatian quality. In the long run, they say, these labels will replace their previous ones, which reflect traceability but have not been notified to the EC, as opposed to the new ''Proven quality'' label.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for much more.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Croatia Partner Country of Italy's Fieragricola Agricultural Fair

ZAGREB, January 30, 2020 - Croatia is the partner country of this year's Fieragricola, Italy's largest agricultural fair, which is taking place in Verona from January 29 to February 1.

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković attended the opening ceremony on Wednesday on behalf of the Agriculture Ministry as the partner institution.

Vuckovic participated in a panel entitled "Agribusiness in Africa and trade relations with the EU and Italy: Opportunities and prospects", and had a bilateral meeting with her Italian counterpart Teresa Bellanova, with whom she discussed ways of advancing Croatian-Italian trade relations, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

In the context of the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU, the State Secretary at the Agriculture Ministry, Zdravko Tušek, presented the main characteristics of the Croatian agricultural sector to potential business partners and representatives of the Italian media and the priorities of the Croatian EU presidency in the area of agriculture.

Italy is among Croatia's most important trading partners. Since 2002 it has been among the top three countries for Croatian exports. Agricultural products accounted for 15.52 percent of all exports to Italy in 2018 and for 16.16 percent in 2019.

Last year Fieragricola confirmed its status as the most important European agricultural show, attracting 130,000 visitors, of whom more than 15 percent were business people from abroad.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

All Restrictions Imposed on Croatia Due to Classical Swine Fever Lifted

ZAGREB, December 31, 2019 - All restrictions imposed on Croatia due to classical swine fever have been lifted, allowing uninterrupted trade in live pigs, pork and pork products within Croatia and the European Union, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The order terminating the order on measures to prevent the emergence and spreading of classical swine fever went into force on December 27, the Ministry said.

Croatia has thus been removed from the lists in the EU member states which imposed strict restrictions on the marketing of live pigs and pig products originating from the Croatian counties of Vukovar-Srijem, Karlovac, Sisak-Moslavina and Slavonski Brod-Posavina.

The Ministry said this was the result of comprehensive veterinary inspection measures aimed at eradicating the disease among domestic pig and wild boar populations after the last outbreak of classical swine fever in Croatia ten years ago.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Croatia Partner Country of International Green Week Berlin 2020

ZAGREB, December 29, 2019 - Croatia will be the partner country of the International Green Week Berlin 2020 taking place on January 17-26, the Agriculture Ministry has announced.

Croatia's agriculture will be represented by the relevant ministry, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and 50 exhibitors - big and small companies and family farms - which will present delicacies such as smoked ham, kulen (flavoured sausage), honey, oil, fruit brandy, wine and many other protected autochthonous products.

Visitors will have a unique opportunity to taste traditional Croatian meals in a green kitchen.

The ministry says Germany is one of Croatia's most important export markets, where nearly one in ten agricultural and food products is sold and trade continues to increase by the year.

International Green Week in Berlin is visited by more than 3,000 media representatives from 75 countries and is the subject of more than 18,000 stories in daily papers and special editions as well as 13,000 online articles.

This, the largest agricultural event in Europe, will be visited by numerous Croatian high officials, leading business people, representatives of the biggest and most influential companies, and numerous public figures.

Thanks to excellent diplomatic, economic and trade relations between Croatia and Germany, Berlin, Germany and International Green Week are the right places for Croatia to showcase its agricultural and food industry in the best light and advance its trade relations in Europe and the world, the ministry says.

The event is attended by 61 countries, 1,800 domestic and foreign exhibitors, and 400,000 visitors.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Over 300,000 Tons of Food Thrown Away by Croatian Households Annually

ZAGREB, December 8, 2019 - More than 300,000 tons of food is thrown away by Croatian households annually, while at the same time organisations try to incite solidarity with the hundreds of hungry and homeless people.

A survey whose findings were recently published in the Waste Management journal confirmed data that, on average, 75 kg of food per capita is thrown away in Croatia annually, as against 92 kg in Europe.

The survey was conducted in 2017, covering 115 Croatian households. It showed that many of them did not realise how much food they threw away.

Researcher Branka Ilakovac says households account for 77% of the 380,000 tons of food waste in Croatia, as against a little over 50% in Europe.

Eighty-eight million tons of food is thrown away in Europe and 1.3 billion worldwide.

In Croatia, fruit and vegetables account for 46% of food waste. Egg shells, tea leaves and coffee grounds account for 12%, bread and pastries for 9%, potatoes for 8% and meat for 7%. Pasta, rice and dairy products account for the least food waste, 4% each.

Households with more children throw away more pasta, rice and dairy products, while larger households throw away more meat, potatoes, bread, pastries, pasta and rice.

More educated respondents throw away less potatoes, pasta and rice, and those with higher incomes throw away more cakes, milk and dairy products.

An earlier survey showed that nearly half of respondents believed that too much food prepared for a meal was the main cause of food waste, while 29% felt the cause was the purchase of too much foodstuffs.

In order to reduce food waste, one-third of respondents fed it to their dog or cat, while a little over 25% tossed it in the trash, says Ilakovac.

It turns out that the shortcomings of waste management also contribute to food waste as a majority of respondents said they did not have an organised system for the collection and transport of biological waste.

There is room and need to further educate people about sorting waste because we have lost a lot of time, Ilakovac says.

Caritas Croatia has been trying for years to replace the practice of throwing food with donating it. As a result, regulations on food donation were amended in September to eliminate obstacles and make it easier to donate food.

Marija Batinić Sermek of the Agriculture Ministry says donors can donate food even after its best-by date and that they are eligible for tax breaks until the best-by date.

Boris Peterlin of Caritas Croatia agrees that the law is important but says the most important thing is "whether food is donated from the heart."

Household food waste can be reduced via prevention, Ilakovac says, by buying only as much as we need, and not more as is the case now, and by not buying new food until we have consumed the food we have.

Donation works for big retail chains, not only for food near its best-by date or food that has arrived in the stores but also food in warehouses because the chains are aware they will not be able to sell all, Ilakovac says.

She has founded the Food Waste Prevention Centre which is focused on households which, she says, need help with this.

People don't realise they throw away food because they have been doing it all their lives, Ilakovac says, adding that the relationship with food is not at all technical but first and foremost a question of a society's maturity, a society which is responsible towards goods and the environment and shows solidarity.

More food news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

"Milk from Croatian Farms" Label Guaranteed by Non-Existent Agency?

ZAGREB, November 20, 2019 - Green List party leader Nenad Matić said on Wednesday that Croatia was importing more and more milk, that the milk produced by domestic farmers was not purchased and that milk production was on the decline, as well as that the "Milk from Croatian Farms" label was guaranteed by the Croatian Agricultural Agency (HPA), which no longer existed.

"We are warning the government and inspections that the HPA stopped operating at the end of last year and that it no longer exists, as well as that some of the Croatian producers still have on their products the HPA label which guarantees that their milk was produced on Croatian farms," Matic said at a news conference outside the Agriculture Ministry.

He said that the party conducted talks with experts and representatives of the milk industry, arriving at the conclusion that long life milk did not contain only the milk produced by Croatian farms and that imported milk was possibly sold as Croatian milk, with consumers paying more for it in the belief that they were buying a fresh product from Croatian farms.

"Maybe this is imported milk because imports have been rising significantly and production has been declining whereas milk consumption has remained similar," said Matić.

In a message to Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković, he said that the PIK Rijeka agribusiness's announcement that it would stop buying milk from 120 small producers in Brinje in the central Lika region, for whom this is the sole source of income, "is the last nail in the coffin for the Croatian milk industry" as well as a blow to measures of demographic revival because people were leaving villages.

Matic stressed that in the last 20 years more than 50,000 dairy farmers had closed their business and that now there were fewer than 6,000 dairy farmers.

"A result of this is that in the last five years more than 100,000 people have emigrated from the region of Slavonia alone," he said.

He stressed that compared to 2017 and 2018 milk production had decreased by five percent or 23 million litres, while imports had increased by 2.5%.

The Green List also called on the agriculture minister to act because Croatia continued to have only five agricultural products that met domestic demand - wheat, corn, chicken meat, mandarins, and sugar.

This non-parliamentary party wants Croatia to be among top EU countries in agricultural production because we have excellent conditions for organic farming as well, he said.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Green List Calls for Stepping Up Control of Honey

ZAGREB, November 4, 2019 - The Green List on Sunday sent an open letter to Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković calling on authorities to step up control on honey on the domestic market, as this non-parliamentary party believes that there are some fraudulent activities considering the quality of this food to the detriment of consumers.

The Green List insists on the correct labelling so that consumers can know the origin of honey on the market.

It also insists on the immediate ban on glyphosate and other products for agricultural weed control which affect bees.

The list says that Croatia has ecological, climate and other comparative advantages for the honey production that can meet the domestic needs as well as demand from abroad.

Croatian bee-keepers are definitely ready for such production, with the support of the state authorities and consumers, reads the open letter.

The authorities should perform large-scale controls on a more frequent basis and consumers should be aware that they cannot buy authentic product at the price lower than 50 kuna per kilo.

The list supports the nation-wide action about Croatian primary school pupils being taught about the importance of honey in their food. As part of the campaign, each first grader is to get a jar of Croatian honey produced by local beekeepers.

The list says that although the imports in the first half of 2019 dropped by 57% on the year, the agriculture ministry is supposed to take some more actions to support local 10,000 beekeepers and honey consumers.

More food news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 20 September 2019

New Bill Doesn't Open Door to GMO Products

ZAGREB, September 20, 2019 - Parliament on Friday debated on a bill on genetically modified organisms (GMO), with most lawmakers asking whether the bill will enable GMO products to enter the Croatian market, while the State Secretary at the Health Ministry, Željko Plazonić, resolutely denied any such possibility, stressing that the bill in fact tightened controls.

The bill harmonises Croatia's legislation with the EU directive that relates to GMO and elaborates how to estimate the risk of GMO for the environment, it improves the traceability of GMO products and tightens controls, and restricts the use and effects of using GMO products, Plazonić said.

He dispelled fears that Croatians would be flooded with GMO products and become laboratory rats for GMO, saying that controls would be tightened.

As far as introducing GMO or banning its use for agricultural purposes, the EU directive enables each member state to decide whether it will ban it or not, he said.

Željko Jovanović (SDP) expressed hope that there would be no public hysteria or unjustified alarms again as the bill goes in favour of opponents of GMO.

The most important difference in the new bill is that it envisages keeping records of the use of medicines and medicinal products containing GMO in clinical tests, genetic therapy, prevention and treatment.

"Not one country in the world can be totally GMO free because that would mean that we could not conduct bio-medical research or produce medicines and antibiotics," said Jovanović.

Josip Križanić (HDZ) noted that in the first three months of 2019 the Health Ministry conducted tests on 92 food samples and all were negative for GMO, adding that in 2018 the Agriculture Ministry did not find any traces of GMO in seeds.

All Croatian counties wish to remain GMO free and this bill should ensure that, Davor Vlaović (HSS) said and called for a second reading of the bill until which the bill should be amended to ban experiments with GMO on open fields.

Miro Bulj of the MOST party said that his party would send a new bill to parliament that will completely ban GMO in Croatia.

The first reading of the bill received support from both the ruling majority and the opposition.

More news about food in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Page 2 of 8