The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Investment Centre and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have joined forces to launch two projects aimed at boosting food quality in Serbia.
Financed by Luxembourg through the joint FAO/EBRD Cooperation, the projects will promote quality and safety standards in the meat sector and origin-based labels for local fruit in a bid to meet customers’ growing expectations for clear labeling and certifications.
“As Serbia formally starts its European Union (EU) accession negotiations, issues of food quality and safety are ever more important for the development of our agri-food sector so we can meet EU and World Trade Organization standards and access a wider market,” said Dragan Glamočić, Serbia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management.
Agriculture contributes approximately 10 percent to Serbia’s GDP and more than 20 percent of employment, accounting for 24 percent of the country’s exports.
The first joint FAO/EBRD project will focus on improving food quality and safety standards in the meat sector to facilitate exports, develop a private quality meat label and share the results with national and international consumers.
The second project will build on the expertise of FAO and EBRD in the development of Geographical Indications (GIs). Among the potential GIs identified is the oblacinska vishnja (sour cherry), and groups of producers will be trained and assisted through the registration process. Through the link with their area of origin, GI-awarded products have won recognition for their high quality.
“The experience of EBRD and FAO with food quality labels in Croatia, Macedonia, Georgia and other countries has demonstrated that synergies between the authorities, small producers and larger agribusinesses is key to raising standards,” said EBRD Senior Banker Miljan Zdrale, Head of Agribusiness for Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. “Engaging a diverse group with complementary strengths opens the potential for change and increasing improved consumer awareness.”
The two projects were launched today at a conference to promote food quality in Belgrade co-organized by FAO and EBRD and supported by the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management.
At the event, entitled “How to add value to your products?”, delegates learned about existing strategies and best practices for adding value to products and discussed trends and quality issues in the meat and horticultural sectors.