Development Assistance to livestock farmers in the mountainous areas of Novo Varos, Priboj, Prijepolje, Sjenica, Tutin and Novi Pazar (the Sandzak region)
[NOTE: The project was approved in January 2003 and was to be implemented in the period January 2003 to December 2004. However, it was then extended by one year to December 2005. AGPC Grassland Group backstopped one portion of the project dealing with forage crops and silage production for which a consultant undertook six missions, with the final mission in April 2005].
The project was expected to establish three farmer-driven "Cooperatives of Livestock Producers" utilizing "bottom-up" development, in the poorer and more isolated municipalities of the Sandzak region. Agricultural machinery, equipment and other inputs were to be made available to farmers through the cooperatives in order to boost livestock production and improve product quality. Technical assistance and training will also be provided to farmers in order to educate them in the new technology and production techniques for livestock production, improve their forage production and conservation, increase their marketing capacities and help them find new markets and outlets for their livestock products. The project is expected to bring about substantial increases in farmers income levels, thus enabling them to take a significant step towards establishing small commercial business enterprises.
GENERAL BACKGROUNDThe peace process in the Balkan region has moved forward since the end of the Kosovar conflict and the change of Government in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). With the creation of separate states the region is facing a delicate transition phase, striving to build what is hoped to be a sustainable peace while recovering from the impact of 10 years of conflict, isolation and international sanctions. The general economic decline has had a negative impact on the agricultural sector and food security in the whole region, including Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro.
In addition to the difficult material and financial situation, institutional problems are further constraints that farmers have to cope with. The collapse of technical advisory/extension services, the general technological isolation, downfall of cooperatives (esp. in Central Serbia) and the transition from a State controlled to a market economy, restrict farmers in reorienting and planning their activities. As a result, only a few farmers are in a position to apply modern techniques, which in turn could form the foundation of grass-root development of the sector and improve the general economic situation at household level.
To effectively address the problems in the livestock sector in Sjenica, Tutin and Prijepolje municipalities, a "Cooperative of Livestock Producers" comprising between eighty and one hundred farmers, should be established in each municipality. These associations of farmers are a critical "bottom-up" intervention developed by the farmers, which will help to enable them to move out of subsistence/survival farming and into the small commercial farming sector. Legal, organisational and educational advice, as well as technical and technological assistance will be offered to the farmers wishing to join the cooperatives. Earnings are usually allocated among the members on the basis of the amount of business each did with the cooperative during the year.
By establishing "Cooperatives of Livestock Producers", the project will enhance farmers livelihoods and secure sustainable development in the agricultural sector of this isolated mountainous region. They will also have a positive impact on the local economies by their multiplier effects on local agro-industry and employment opportunities, contributing to local and rural stabilisation and development.
The overall objective is to facilitate the gradual economic recovery of the agricultural sector, by revitalising and developing livestock production for farmers in the different agro-ecological situations in this mountainous region.
The main objective is to establish three "Cooperatives of Livestock Producers" in the isolated, backward and poorest Sjenica, Tutin and Prijebolje areas, in order to encourage these livestock farmers to progress and develop into more viable commercial businesses with a steady cash flow.
Additionally, this project would assist in establishing livestock breeders associations as well as producer and marketing groups over the whole Sandzak region, incorporating highland areas and valleys that would each be able to offer something different to the relationship. Linkages would be established with other organisations involved in the sector.
Lactofreeze milk tanks for cow and sheep milk and generators, a limited selection of farm equipment, and quality cattle semen will also be provided, with the aim of improving the technical and managerial expertise of farmers. The project is primarily designed to strengthen farmers self-reliance, but also to maximise cooperative relationships and at the same time assist in working towards the regions overall economic recovery.
The lead consultant undertook his first mission in February/March 2003 and then a new team leader, national team leader, producer groups specialist and forage and feed specialist undertook a joint mission in July/August 2003. AGPC has been responsible for the forage crops and silage component and a consultant was fielded for five further missions, in November 2003, April 2004, June 2004, September 2004 and April 2005. The project provided advice to farmers on alternative forage crops for different livestock systems, in order to improve the yield and quality of forage for their livestock, particularly for winter feed. Field days on "demonstration farms" and to other areas and cooperatives have been an important training element. Silage making was less emphasized than originally planned and there was more emphasis on producer groups (that are sustainable with clear objectives, are market led and farmer managed) and focus were on key issues that was identified during participatory appraisals of farmer and rural community development needs, rather than on establishing cooperatives as originally foreseen.
The focus of the forage programme was on spring, summer and autumn
fodder demonstration trials, the introduction of new farm machinery
(direct drills, mowers, mini round balers, "mountain" mowers),
fodder conservation, fodder and feed diaries and group formation.
A very successful Agriculture Fair was held in Sjenica in August 2004
and again in 2005. The project has been very successful and plans
for follow up activities in other areas and countries in the region
resulted in a new project in Kosovo and Montenegro.