Monday, 9 September 2019

Young Farmers to Receive Millions in Support

ZAGREB, September 9, 2019 - The Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development on Monday signed 146 new agreements worth a total of 45.7 million kuna intended for young farmers.

The agreements were concluded within the EU-funded scheme for young farmers.

Attending the ceremony, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković underscored the ministry's priority in the generational renewal of farms and rural areas.

Without that support, without young people, without renewing the agriculture sector, there is no future, she said.

To date there have been three rounds of calls for applications for support for young farmers and 1,343 projects have been approved and after today that number will be 1,489. In the first two calls for applications 644 projects were approved and an additional 699 were approved in the third round of applications.

The total amount of support to date amounts to 512 million kuna, Minister Vučković underlined.

She informed of the results of these measures over the past two years - the number of family farms run by young people has grown from 20,000 to 22,300.

Young farmers account for 13% of the total agricultural businesses which is twice as much as in the EU, she said and added that the objective is to increase that share to 20%.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Cedar Timber Factory “Example of Development for Mountainous Regions”

ZAGREB, August 24, 2019 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday visited the Vrbovsko-based Cedar timber factory and said that it was important for the region of Gorski Kotar to have such businesses that can create jobs and generate economic growth.

"I am confident that the activity of Cedar, fully export-oriented company, will contribute to Vrbovsko, Gorski Kotar and parts of Lika," Plenković said after he toured the company's compounds, which include the state-of-the-art hardwood processing plant under construction, and other units as well as the biomass co-generation plant.

We have seen the modern factory which does business according to the best technological standards, Plenković said.

He added that he expected good cooperation between this company in the mountainous region of Gorski Kotar and the state-run national forest management company "Hrvatske Šume".

The premier recalled that the government had made great headway with the legislation on the mountainous and hilly regions and on the regions entitled to special state aid.

The Cedar director Darko Prodan said that with the completion of the hardwood processing plant, this factory would be one of the top companies in that segment in Europe. Currently, some 350 people are on Cedar's payroll.

Cedar has to date invested more than 70 million euro in its capacities, and the total value of the whole investment stands at 100 million euro.

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said that the ministry would work on making sure that as much raw material as possible be directed to timber factories with higher levels of finished products.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Croatia Producing Less Vegetables for Winter Food Storage

ZAGREB, August 18,, 2019 - Traditional winter food storage vegetables - peppers and cucumbers - are grown less and less in Croatia, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) has reported.

In 2018, pepper growers produced 18,106 tonnes of that vegetable, 6% less than in 2017, when 19,303 tonnes of peppers were grown.

The situation with cucumbers is even less favourable, with only 6,442 tonnes produced in 2018, almost 40% less than in 2017, when the yield was 10,662 tonnes.

In the same period cucumber imports grew by more than five percent while pepper imports increased by close to 15%.

An interesting fact is that despite the decline in production, cucumber exports have been on the rise as well, with 5,139 tonnes having been exported in 2018, which accounted for 80% of the yield and was 22% higher than in 2017.

More than 75% of cucumber exports ended up in the Czech Republic and Germany while most imports came from Spain, Italy and Serbia, the HGK said.

More news about agriculture can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Millions for Young Farmers and Non-Agricultural Activities

ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 - The Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development on Wednesday signed 400 new agreements worth a total of 94 million kuna from the Rural Development Programme, intended for young and small farmers and the development of non-agricultural activities.

The agreements include 90 agreements to support young agrarians, 271 agreements to support the development of small farm and 39 agreements to support the development of non-agricultural activities in rural areas.

Newly-appointed Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković attended the signing ceremony and said that these measures were important because they would contribute to the survival of Croatian agriculture, the development of small farms, generational revival and would provide support for non-agricultural activities such as rural tourism, hospitality industry, and preserving and developing traditional skills.

She added that so far contracts had been agreed for 70% of available funds from the Rural Development Programme and more than 40% had been paid out. She called on farmers to merge, to use innovations and EU funds.

Vučković said that Croatian farmers were still faced with numerous challenges, but that it was worth noting that certain progress was evident at the end of 2018 - in the volume of European funds being absorbed and faster growth of exports compared to imports. "It is too early to talk about trends but we in the ministry will do everything for that not to be a coincidence," she said.

With today's agreements included, 1,367 agreements granting 473.3 million kuna have been signed to date, the ministry said in a press release.

The ministry added that with regard to absorption from the Rural Development Programme, 97% or 17.5 billion kuna has been put at the disposal of agrarians and other beneficiaries, 70% or 12.6 billion kuna has been contracted and 40% or 7.3 billion kuna has been paid out of the funds available.

More news about EU funds can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Croatia to Ask for 3-Year-Extension of Moratorium on Selling Farmland to Aliens

ZAGREB, July 11, 2019 - The Croatian government on Thursday dismissed allegations from the interpellation submitted by the Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS) and Democrats parliamentary group over the government's failure to extend a moratorium on the sale of farmland to aliens.

The government states that it will submit the request in a timely manner to the European Commission for an extension of an additional three years to the 7-year moratorium on the sale of farmland to aliens.

The deadline for submitting the request expires on 1 July 2020, seven years after Croatia's admission to the EU.

Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić said today that the request would be most probably sent to Brussels this September.

Tolušić said that for that purpose, the government had already held talks with officials of the Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union to discuss technical aspects of the lodging of the application.

He also informed the government about long-term leases of state-owned farmland in local municipalities and towns.

By this move, we have practically enabled several generations of Croatian farmers to use state-owned agricultural land, he said adding that the government enabled the sale of that land to local farmers.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Investment in Croatian Agriculture Justified, Says World Bank

ZAGREB, July 8, 2019 - The initial results of an in-depth analysis of Croatian agriculture show that investment in agriculture is economically justified, and that 1 million dollars invested in agricultural production generates an increase of 5.19 million dollars in the value of the total volume of economic output.

The analysis was carried out by World Bank experts, who say that the Croatian agricultural sector has many comparative advantages that can be used to increase growth and development, such as unrestricted access to the EU market, access to funding under the Common Agricultural Policy, diverse agricultural and environmental conditions, good land and rich water resources, relatively low labour costs, good road infrastructure, and growing tourism.

The World Bank, however, notes that Croatia is still dependent on agricultural and food imports, while Croatian farmers use obsolete and ineffective machinery, slowly adjust to technological changes and innovations, and rarely form associations, which makes them less competitive and less adaptable to change.

The document shows that in order for the agricultural and food sector to achieve its full potential, it is necessary to make improvements in agricultural productivity and in creating added value by connecting primary production and processing.

"Agriculture and rural areas, as well as aquaculture, have huge potential for growth and development, and the structural transformation of these sectors, which in particular has been encouraged since Croatia's entry into the European Union, is going in a good direction," Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić said.

He said that a strategic vision for the development of agriculture and rural areas would be finalised by the end of the year, and that a national strategic plan for the EU's Common Agricultural Policy 2021-20127 would also be prepared.

The analysis shows that Croatia is currently competitive in low-value primary agricultural products, such as cereals and oil crops (sunflower and soybean), while its competitiveness in high-value products is limited to a relatively small number of horticultural and livestock products.

The document also shows that Croatia should seize the opportunities offered by organic production because compared with other EU countries Croatia has recorded the largest increase in areas under organic production.

More news about Croatian agriculture can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

China Soon to Grant Permits for Croatian Dairy Products

ZAGREB, June 18, 2019 - Chinese permits for Croatian dairy products  should be finalised by the end of the year, which will open the Chinese market to Croatian exporters, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Tomislav Tolušić said on Tuesday.

The procedure is in its final stage and we hope exports could begin by the year's end, Tolušić told the press after a meeting at government headquarters with Chinese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Changfu. The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

Tolušić said that the procedure to issue permits was initiated five years ago and that Croatia wished to avoid such a long procedure in the future because it was also interested in exporting poultry, pork, fresh and frozen tuna and other products to China.

"We want a much bigger commodity exchange in agriculture and the food industry and that's why we need Chinese permits," Tolušić said. "We are glad that the Chinese agriculture ministry sees this and is willing to help us," he added.

Tolušić said that by the end of this year the Chinese would make a promo film about Croatian food products and would broadcast it on Chinese TV channels to help promote Croatian products on the Chinese market.

Minister Han said that the Croatian-Chinese cooperation in the agriculture sector was very good and that China wants to intensify it.

"The Chinese market needs quality products and this could help Croatian agriculture, while on the other hand Chinese citizens can enjoy quality Croatian products," Han said.

He added that he expected Croatian dairy products to be placed on the Chinese market soon and announced the media promotion of these and other food products from Croatia.

More news about Croatian agriculture can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Croatian and Chinese Officials Developing Agricultural Cooperation

ZAGREB, June 17, 2019 - A delegation of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs led by Minister Han Changfu arrived in Zagreb on Monday for a three-day official visit to Croatia.

During their stay in Croatia, the Chinese officials will be received by Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić and visit several agricultural and food producers, the ministry said in a press release.

The talks with Tolušić are scheduled for Monday afternoon.

A joint press conference will be held after a meeting in the government on Tuesday.

The delegation will visit the Koka poultry processing plant in Varaždin and after that it will travel to the southern coastal town of Ston to tour the local saltworks and oyster farms.

Minister Tolušić conducted a visit to China last week where he attended the 4th dialogue between China and Central and Eastern European countries regarding customs, inspections and quarantine.

Tolušić 's visit to China was aimed at speeding up the process of approving the import of Croatian agricultural products - particularly meat and meat products, fresh tuna and honey to China, and that was the topic of a bilateral meeting between Minister Tolušić and Vice Minister Wang Lingjun in the General Administration of Customs (GACC).

The two officials then agreed on further exchanging information with the aim of expediting procedures and strengthening foreign-trade exchange of agricultural products between Croatia and China.

During an official visit of China's Premier Li Keqiang to Croatia in April, a protocol was signed paving the way for the export of Croatian dairy products to the Chinese market following the inspection of Croatia's processing plants and food control system by Chinese experts.

More news about relations between Croatia and China can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Conference Focuses on Food Safety in Croatia

ZAGREB, May 28, 2019 - Croatia has to have an excellent food safety system, promote the highest veterinary and health standards and be part of the European Food Safety Authority, primarily to protect domestic products and it is a fact that food is an important part of the tourism industry, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) vice president, Dragan Kovačević, said at the start of the 13th food safety conference organised by HGK in Opatija.

The two-day conference is dedicated to reorganising the food safety system in Croatia, food fraud, labelling country of origin, fake news, pesticides in food, extended use by date and other topics.

Kovačević said that since its admission to the EU in 2013, Croatia's trade deficit in agricultural and food products has increased from 740 million euro to 1 billion, with Croatia's food imports totalling 3 billion and exports 2 billion euro.

Kovačević warned that in terms of the amount of imported food, meat, dairy, fruit and vegetable products topped the ranking, which indicated a poor agricultural structure, and added that Croatia's productivity is below 50% of the EU average.

On the other hand, it is encouraging that Croatia has now curbed the increase of that trade deficit, he said.

In the first few months of 2019, food exports increased at a greater rate than imports and the biggest export increase has been achieved on the most demanding EU markets.

State Secretary in the Agriculture Ministry, Tugomir Majdak, said that one of the most important activities by the ministry was to secure self-sufficiency of food produced by Croatia's farmers, particularly cattle farmers and that it wants to support the export of domestic quality products to foreign markets.

Croatia has protected 22 of its products with EU quality labels so far, said Majdak and announced the ministry was working on a plan to reduce food waste.

Health and Consumers Directorate General Ghislain Marechal spoke about food fraud in the EU saying that this has several negative effects because it is harmful to consumers' health and that their trust in authorities is thus affected.

In most cases food is incorrectly labelled, it is diluted and often include banned additives, he said. The system isn't especially designed to prevent fraud and so it is necessary to avert perpetrators, he added.

Marechal is of the opinion that imports from countries that are not in the EU, cause additional problems because they have different food safety laws.

Marechal said that food fraud is not taken to be a priority and often police in the field are not sufficiently trained to recognise food fraud.

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

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Fisheries and Aquaculture Strategically Important Sectors

ZAGREB, May 14, 2019 - Fisheries and aquaculture are strategically important sectors in Croatia and important factors in preventing a population decline in island communities, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a conference on fisheries in the central Adriatic town of Šibenik on Monday.

The conference, taking place on Monday and Tuesday, is being attended by representatives of ministries and institutions relevant for the sea and fisheries sectors and the scientific community.

The event was opened by Plenković who said that the fisheries strategy was a branch of industry, a pillar of the economy in coastal Croatia and an important development factor in all coastal counties.

Plenković said the conference would focus on what is the most important for the present and future of Croatia's fisheries, namely sustainability. "Primarily, this means responsible management of fish stocks, the preservation of the marine environment and a fair distribution of resources. Fisheries as a branch of the economy is very important for the island population. It employs approximately 12,000 people and is one of the main factors that prevent the depopulation of island communities," Plenković said.

According to the figures presented at the conference, Croatia's fishing fleet comprises more than 200 vessels, and the industry directly employs over 1,400 people. There are another 3,300 people in the fish processing industry. The country also has a fleet of 350 trawlers. Total annual production in aquaculture (freshwater and saltwater) amounts to over 17,000 tonnes, worth EUR 100 million.

Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić said there was no alternative to the sustainability of fisheries.

The event was also attended by Defence Minister Damir Krstičević and Šibenik-Knin County Prefect Goran Pauk.

More fishing news can be found in the Business section.

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