With the prospect of Serbia joining the European Union, the country’s agricultural sector is at a crossroads. Most agrifood chains could benefit from modernization and restructuring, and stronger producer and processor organizations could be better placed to represent the interests of the industry, both domestically and internationally. Meat and dairy sectors are among the most important contributors to Serbia’s agricultural output. However, innovation, technical modernization and investment are needed to respond to a highly competitive European market and currently weak policy dialogue.
FAO and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) jointly organized a one-day meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, on 25 November 2013 to kick off a new project fostering public-private policy dialogue in the meat and dairy sectors. This event was opened by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Mr. Dragan Glamocic, and approximately 40 industry and associations representatives attended.
Milk producers and processors representatives actively contributed to listing the major obstacles faced in the sector and representatives of meat producers and processors stated that the Government should improve the business environment in the livestock sector. The main issues identified were: (i) the need to improve Serbian competitiveness in the two sectors; (ii) the need for more consistent agrarian policy measures in the livestock sector focused on animal health and food safety; and (iii) the need to enhance industry organization and representation at the processing and farmer level cooperation.
“We have witnessed distortions in the market, very drought years, very high feed prices, inconsistent agrarian policy, inadequate communication,” declared Minister Glamocic in his introductory speech, “In the coming years, the Ministry will facilitate strengthening the production and processing of milk and meat in Serbia, strengthen the partnership between producers, processors and the Ministry and create strong and competitive sectors.”
Building on its experience of public-private policy dialogue in other countries, the EBRD and FAO Investment Centre will lead this new project, which will facilitate collaboration and transparent dialogue between the Ministry, agribusiness, and small-scale producers in Serbia.