Flood waters are receding in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia, but it will be a long time before farmers recover from the loss of crops, livestock, animal feed, and valuable agricultural equipment and infrastructure. On a visit to both countries this week, FAO’s top executive in the region expressed his strong commitment: FAO is here to assist and make its technical and operational expertise available to the governments in coping with the disaster.
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative Vladimir Rakhmanin visited farming areas hit by severe flooding due to extraordinary rainfall in mid-May. He joined FAO teams that have been on the ground in both countries since the days immediately following the flooding.
He also met with Ministry of Agriculture and other national officials, as well as donor representatives, in both Sarajevo and Belgrade.
“We are on the ground in both countries, supporting the relief efforts, working with national authorities, with local government and with the farmers,” Rakhmanin said. “The international community is united to provide support.” In a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister in Belgrade, Rakhmanin reiterated FAO’s commitment to complement efforts made by the Government of Serbia towards recovery and rehabilitation of the agriculture sector.
Rakhmanin appealed to donor governments and agencies to remember the food and agriculture sector when making their decisions on financing recovery and reconstruction.
“The damage sustained by agriculture in both countries is extreme,” Rakhmanin said as he surveyed the situation in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Until farmers can rebuild and get back to farming, it’s not just crops and livestock that are at risk. It’s rural communities, family livelihoods and food security.” In Bosnia and Herzegovina alone, FAO’s preliminary estimates put total damage to agriculture at about Euro 200 million.
For rapid deployment of technical expertise on the ground, particularly for post-disaster needs assessment, FAO is using its own funds. In parallel, the Organization is preparing and discussing technically adapted recovery projects with donor representatives in both countries. With donor financing, FAO interventions will reach more of the inundated areas and accelerate recovery for rural populations. Provision of animal feed and locally appropriate seed – for winter wheat and other crops – is among the top priorities for FAO assistance.
Both Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have allocated funds from their national budgets for coping with the emergency, including provision of services and inputs to affected farmers.
19 June 2014, Belgrade, Serbia