AGRICULTURE REQUIRES WELL-KNOWN AND STABLE LONG-TERM CONDITIONS OF PERFORMANCE

On 13 October 2009, the Association of Agriculture and Food Industry and Belgrade Union of Cooperatives organised the round table in the Belgrade Chamber of Commerce on the "State of agriculture in Belgrade and Serbia and proposal of remedy measures." It was concluded that the agricultural development should be based on optimum use and preservation of the available capacities, increase of production scope and changed structure of output in favour of high-quality produce for export.

The goals that Serbia should attain by 2020 are as follows: annual export of 500 thousand tons of wheat, 1.5-2 million tons of maize, 250 thousand tons of sugar, 100 thousand tons of sunflower oil, 20 thousand tons of steers and veal, 3 thousand tons of sheep and mutton, 30 thousand tons of wine; export of fruit, vegetables, medicinal herbs and non-timber forest products amounting to 760 million US$; bigger farms should be the pillars of agricultural production, while small farms can also contribute significantly if organized in cooperatives. If Serbia engages all its production capacities, by 2020 its export could reach 6 billion US$.

In order to reach the above, restructuring of production, adoption of new technologies, increase of productivity rate, and enhanced competitiveness are required, and above all – the adequate financing. At present rate of investments in agriculture, Serbia does not stand a chance to get close to the EU countries in terms of competitiveness. It is even questionable if it could satisfy the needs of its own market since, in spite of excellent quantity-related indicators, it most often shows financial losses. According to Mr. Dragan Satarić, General Manager of PIK "Bečej", the losses range between RSD 21,000/ha for maize and sugar beet to RSD 25.000/ha for wheat. Also, it is not acceptable that only individual farmers benefit from state subsidies while companies are left with no support from the government.

It has been concluded that preconditions for successful agriculture are known and stable conditions of performance and that is, in the long run. That calls for much higher agrar budget, equal access to subsidies, and redirecting of regress in favour of producers.