FAO Investment Centre

Serbian grain on the big stage


The Serbian Grain Association hosted a round table yesterday at Global Grain Geneva to promote Serbian grain and the country as a top exporter, given that Serbia is now regularly ranked among the ten largest wheat and corn exporters worldwide.

A session at Europe’s biggest annual meeting of grain players was a first for the association and was organized and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Global Grain Geneva attracts 1 100 attendees from 65 countries every year and provides an opportunity to share best practices and experiences in exporting grain. For the Serbian Grain Association, this year’s edition – which takes place from 13 to 15 November – offers the chance to network with the numerous producers, millers, feed companies and traders as well as finance, shipping, legal and technology specialists.

Calling for investment

During the session, Slavko Jovanovic, President of the Serbian Grain Association’s Managing Board, highlighted Serbia’s numerous advantages as a grain and oilseed exporter – and pointed to its favourable transport links, notably Pan-European Corridor VII which connects the Black Sea to the North Sea.

Serbia’s wheat and corn yields have steadily been increasing over the last decade – 26 percent and 34 percent respectively. But, as Jovanovic pointed out, “in order to further increase export efficiency as well as improve the regulatory climate – such as bottlenecks in obtaining construction permits and land – additional investments are needed.”

Wojtek Boniszczuk, Regional Agribusiness Head at the EBRD, added that “limited storage capacity and export infrastructure hinder exports, as do river, road and rail transport facilities, while port capacities need to be increased and new siloes constructed, primarily on the Danube.”

FAO and EBRD support to Serbian grain

Many of the domestic grain infrastructure, trade and export issues are being addressed with the help of FAO and EBRD experts through a consultation process and policy dialogue with the government. One example is FAO’s analysis of the legal framework for investing in river infrastructure and suprastructure.

The two organisations have also been working with the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and the Serbian Grain Association to improve quality standards and boost exports. Just recently, Serbia was listed as an approved wheat exporter to Egypt – one of the world’s biggest importers – and such a milestone is likely to lead to increased exports.

Despite these forward strides, if regulatory conditions were to further improve there would be great opportunities for investment in Serbian grain.

According to FAO’s Milos Milovanovic, “Serbian grain exports are likely to continue to rise over the coming years, so it is important that regulatory bottlenecks are overcome to usher in the much-needed investment that would dramatically increase efficiency and boost exports even further.”