Press Release 00/61
2,500 CATTLE FOR POOR FARMERS IN KOSOVO FLOWN IN FROM GERMANY AND AUSTRIA - JOINT FAO/WORLD BANK INITIATIVE
Pristina, 9 November 2000 -- Around 2,500 cattle have been flown to Kosovo since the beginning of October as part of an Emergency Farm Reconstruction Project funded by the World Bank and the Netherlands and managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The animals were given to poor farmers and their families who lost all their livestock during the war, FAO said in a statement today.
International experts and veterinarians from Kosovo selected the animals (Simmental Fleckvieh and Brown Swiss) in Germany and Austria. These breeds are particularly well adapted to the climate and small-scale farming in Kosovo.
The distribution took place in three municipalities which suffered the greatest damage to their agriculture (Srbica/Skenderaj, Glogovac/Gllogovc, Decani/Decan). The recipient families were selected by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Action Against Hunger and Mercy Corps International, under FAO supervision. The beneficiary families will also be provided with veterinary services and concentrated feed for their animals.
"We want to give poor families a new chance. After they lost everything during the conflict, receiving cattle will enable them to start livestock production again. Looting and slaughter of livestock was widespread. FAO estimates that during the war farmers in Kosovo lost about 200,000 cattle, or half of the national herd. The FAO/World Bank project is an important contribution to the re-stocking the cattle herd," said Daniele Donati, FAO Emergency Coordinator for Kosovo.
"With access to milk and cheese the project will improve the nutrition and food security of poor families," Mr. Donati said. "It will also stimulate the local production of dairy products and help reduce Kosovo's dependence on imports."
The project includes the rehabilitation of veterinary services. Veterinary kits including drugs and equipment for artificial insemination will be distributed to private veterinarians on a cost recovery basis. In addition, a central veterinary laboratory will be equipped for animal disease surveillance.
FAO and the World Bank will also repair and replace farm machinery through the project. Roughly 50 percent of tractors were lost or damaged throughout Kosovo during and after the war. Initially, some 1,600 tractors will be repaired and 120 new tractors distributed to plough land for 3,600 farming families.
The first phase of the FAO/World Bank project amounts to $12.36 million, of which the World Bank paid $10-56 million and the Netherlands $1.8 million. The project is run by a special team within the FAO Emergency Coordination Unit in Pristina. If additional funding becomes available, the cattle restocking and farm mechanization will be expanded.
"The project shows that FAO is moving from emergency assistance to rehabilitation in Kosovo," Mr. Daniele Donati said. "Since July 1999, Kosovo has witnessed considerable progress in the rehabilitation of agriculture and a sharp recovery in agricultural production."
FAO forecasts wheat production in 2000 at about 230,000 tonnes, from a harvested area of 86,600 heactares, which is more than double the estimate of last year's crop, but still only 60 percent of the production level in 1989. "This year's harvest of wheat and other crops will be sufficient to ensure access for a large part of the rural population to the food required for their own consumption over the next 12 months," Mr. Donati said.
Since FAO started its emergency activities in Kosovo in July 1999, around 85,000 families, or 700,000 people, have received agricultural emergency assistance (potato, vegetable and maize seeds, as well as fertilizers) from the Organization and its NGO partners. The number of beneficiary families has now been reduced to 20,000.
"In future, we will focus on agricultural diversification, seed multiplication, environmental protection and the transfer of basic technology. It is our objective to transfer FAO's experience, analysis and data gathered during the emergency phase to the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and its Department of Agriculture," Mr. Donati said.