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Agriculture Our Opportunity

Exceptional natural agricultural resources for both plant and animal production are not enough by themselves for a country to feed its population and export food. This can be seen in the examples of small Serbia, large China, rich Australia… Nature needs help from the latest technology, besides returning to the good old hoe and natural fertilisers

AGRICULTURAL FAIR WITH THE OLD TIMING AND FORMAT

The largest and most important national event dedicated to agriculture is the International Agricultural Fair. This year’s 89th edition will be held from 21st to 27th May at the Novi Sad Fairgrounds, in its regular spring slot and traditional format, i.e. live. Exhibitors will again be able to exploit their own and the fair’s possibilities to better present and achieve great business results and, after the break caused by the pandemic, when the fair was held online, visitors will again walk among the stands with their live and mechanical exhibits.

As is the case every year, guests will have opportunities to check out the latest machinery, tools, agro-technical appliances, crops and scientific achievements…

With the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, there will be an exhibition of livestock, an exhibition of genetic possibilities, an exhibition of products with the national label, exhibitions of organic products, public prize contests of horses and cattle, a cattle breeders’ day with a ceremonial parade of prize cattle, a fruit day, a champion’s evening and much more.

THE HOE RETURNS TO BANJA LUKA

Some people in Banja Luka were convinced that the pandemic had to bring some benefit, prompting hem to become gardeners overnight. It all started in 2018, when 10,000 square metres of land was distributed to inhabitants. As the interest was greater than the number of vacant plots, a public invitation was sent to landowners. In the midst of the pandemic, the Hoe in Hand, Let’s Feed Banja Luka initiative was born. That spring, 20 families founded their first garden and the following year the number of gardens increased to 30, but the interest in gardening is still growing.

The Hoe in Hand initiative has city gardens in Petrićevac, Starčevica and near the Agricultural School, besides the gardens already in Rakovački under the Banja Luka City Garden project. It is hoped that production will expand year-on-year and that the authorities will catch on to their popularity and allocate new planting areas.

THERE WILL BE ENOUGH FOOD, BUT IT WILL BE EXPENSIVE

“Due to the war in Ukraine and the crisis that has spilled over to the rest of Europe, food prices will inevitably rise in the coming period”, concluded the Business Trends summit panel held in Belgrade in late April, organised by Instore and NIN magazines.

Miloš Mijović, director of MK Agriculture, believes that growth in the price of artificial fertilisers, which is three times higher than before the crisis, will certainly affect Serbian food producers. He doesn’t expect business to be jeopardised this year, but he believes that next year will be more challenging. As he emphasised, there will be quite enough wheat for national needs, but export can be threatened.

According to Luka Popović, COO of Delta Agrar and director of Danubius and Delta Feed, we are facing a period without cheap food, but also without sufficient shortage capacities.

“Serbia is a serious agricultural country ranked in the top 10 world producers of corn, wheat and beets, so there will certainly be food for local needs”, said Popovic, adding that supply chains are important for production but have seen significant disruption, and that all this will increase the price of food.

LIFE RETURNS TO SERBIAN VILLAGES

In 2022 the commission for the allocation of grants for the purchase of a rural house with a garden distributed 90 rural houses and delighted 13 young farmers, 13 single parents and 64 families throughout Serbia. Grants for the purchase of rural houses are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis as long as funds last, but no later than 1st November 2022.

Young married and unmarried couples, single parents and young farmers up to the age of 45 can apply for a grant to buy a country house. According to the terms of the competition, the house can be located in all populated areas of the Republic of Serbia, except in urban and municipal centres and suburbs, and its value can amount to a maximum of 1.2 million dinars.

In last year’s cycle, 651 rural houses with gardens were awarded in as many as 100 local government units, and a total of 500 million dinars was set aside for this in the budget of the Republic of Serbia for 2022.

EATING INSECTS SAVES THE PLANET

A recent study by Finnish scientists showed that replacing livestock products with insects in our diets would reduce the effects of agriculture on global warming and water and soil pollution by 80 percent.

Finnish researchers have used computer models to determine the optimal combination of diets that would meet all nutritional needs, while minimising the impact on the environment, water consumption and soil pollution.

Experts from the University of Helsinki say that vegetarians and vegans have demonstrated the health and environmental benefits that can result from reduced meat consumption. Not only could switching to ‘food of the future’ such as insects and mushroom protein meet our needs, but also contribute to a better intake of essential nutrients.

CHINESE FARMERS DEVELOP SMART AGRICULTURE

Five Chinese provinces will receive technical guidelines from expert teams sent by the Ministry of Agriculture, after last year’s floods had a negative effect on sowing and on the harvest. More than 800,000 people will be able to attend online training through the National Platform for Agricultural Technology, as the Chinese authorities have concluded that the future of agriculture lies in modernising and developing technology.

With modern farming platforms and smart farming technology, including drones, satellite imagery and computer modeling, the state provides support to farmers across the country, turning farmers’ mobile phones into intelligent tools and resources for environmental protection.

IT’S TIME FOR WEEDS

The Serbian Intellectual Property Institute is celebrating its centenary and has published a calendar of the greatest Serbian scientists and inventors, including Dr Danica Gajić. The only woman among the great scientists stood shoulder to shoulder with Nikola Tesla, Mihailo Pupin and Milutin Milanković, thanks to “agrostemin”, a broad-spectrum bioenergy agent that serves to increase yields, improve crop quality and optimise production costs.

The need for the application of this natural preparation, which is obtained from a powder of weeds and other cultivated and wild plants, has been particularly evident in recent months due to extremely high prices of fertilisers, but also due to the need to turn to agrotechnical measures suitable for organic agriculture. Back in 1987, the World Intellectual Property Organisation awarded Dr Danica Gajić their Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement, and Agrostemin has since become one of the standard agrotechnical measures based on research and decades of practical use in our country and around the world.

A FARM WITH NO FARMER?

YES Australia last year gained the world’s first fully automated farm covering 1,900 hectares, where human hands do absolutely nothing. Agricultural production on this property takes place with the help of artificial intelligence, robots and smart sensors, and the goal is to show how technology can make the industry more productive and efficient.

According to ABC News, installing the system cost 20 million dollars. The project was conducted by researchers at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga in cooperation with the Food Agility Institute. This is proof that technological innovation is not just spreading to smart cities, smart buildings or new hybrid work models, robots are also transforming agriculture with artificial intelligence, autonomous tractors, real-time sensors that monitor crops, drones or fruit and vegetable picking robots.

The farm has unmanned aerial vehicles, robotic tractors, combines and smart sensors for measuring emissions of carbon released into the atmosphere.

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