FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Serbian visitors study organic farming in Hungary

A group of Serbian farmers and others involved in agriculture are in Hungary this week to see first-hand the practice of small-scale organic farming, open-air organic farmers’ markets, and effective marketing techniques. The four-day study tour was arranged by FAO and the Government of Hungary as part of a two-year project to help build Serbia’s capacity and support services for organic agriculture.

The Serbian group of 15 includes farmers, teachers, and government and nongovernmental representatives. They are touring six organic farms including a winery and a processing operation, in Fülöpjakab, Kecskemét, Zsámbok, Galgahévíz, Kistarcsa, and Monorierdö.

Each host farm offers educational activities for the participants. Topics include an introduction to organic gardening, experiences in direct marketing, a question-and-answer session on organic seeds, propagating material and fertilizers, a review of technical solutions and costs of crop protection, and a presentation on foodchain safety regulation including labelling, inspections, and authorizations.

At Szent István University in Gödöllő, the Serbian visitors learned about Hungary’s organic education program and its inspection and certification process. They also visited an organic green market in Budapest certified by Biokontroll Hungaria.

“This study trip has exceeded my expectations,” said Vladimir Vozar, an organic farmer from Kisac, Serbia. “The thing that gave me the most satisfaction was the readiness of farmers to reveal their secrets related to production technology. What I saw here showed me I am not far from them. On the contrary, in some ways I have the advantage, but getting knowledge on new plant protection treatments and measurements against diseases and pests I value the most.”

The agricultural sector in Serbia accounts for up to 12.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and contributes significantly to foreign trade due to preferential access to European Union markets and liberalized trading within the Western Balkans. With increasing demand for organic products on both domestic and international markets, organic agriculture is a major opportunity for Serbia’s agricultural growth.

If properly developed, organic agriculture could contribute significantly to resolving some of the most acute problems facing Serbia’s rural areas – by generating jobs, engaging young people in sustainable agricultural development and ultimately contributing to improved incomes and livelihoods.

“What I found out during the visit I will share with my students,” said Dejan Milosavljevic, a teacher with the Secondary Agricultural-Veterinarian School in Svilajnac, Serbia.

Jovo Cato, director of the Secondary Food Technology-Agricultural School, added, “All that we’ve heard and seen during the visit is useful and applicable, which is the most important. Every exchange of experiences helps in getting an insight into what do we do and what we have problems with.”

“I got new ideas, new information on plant protection, I saw companies in plant protection business, and I got an overview in entire market of inputs,” said Mirko Vlcek, a young organic farmer. “I saw successful farmers dealing with organic production. And although I am rather new in this type of production, during this visit I realized that I am in a good position.”

24 April 2015, Budapest, Hungary