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Dušan Radičević, Al Dahra Serbia CEO

How Does One Become An Agriculture Leader?

With the arrival in Serbia of Al Dahra, which is known as a global leader in the agricultural industry, new standards were set for our market in terms of operations, production processes and product quality

It has taken this company less than four years to take one of the leading positions in our country’s agricultural sector, while it is also – together with Al Dahra Romania – the largest producer of agricultural products in the region and one of the largest in Europe. Here we discuss this great achievement with Al Dahra Serbia CEO Dušan Radičević.

“If we observe Al Dahra at the global level, we are talking about an international agribusiness leader that has over 5,000 employees, spans across 20 countries and serves 45 markets. We cultivate more than 400,000 hectares of land, with 1,200 ancillary facilities and a stunning 15 cutting edge animal fodder processing plants with a combined annual production capacity of three million metric tons of alfalfa and other grazing crops,” notes Radičević. Al Dahra’s biggest markets are in the Middle East and Asia, “but,” explains our interlocutor, “that’s only in a quantitative sense, as the company gives equal importance to all markets, partners and end users.”

This agricultural giant was nonetheless awaited by major tasks upon arrival in our country. “When Al Dahra launched operations in Serbia, we encountered numerous challenges on the ground. Our greatest success is the fact that we’ve taken less than four years to revitalise the production of the former PKB agricultural combine,” says Radičević, before adding: “we invested 60 million euros – twice as much as was specified in the contract – and we didn’t have to wait long for the first results. With dedicated work and good organisation, we quickly stabilised operations, modernised the machinery and infrastructure, reconstructed ancillary buildings and farms, cleared irrigation canals, cleaned up wild dumpsites, increased production and improved the position of employees significantly by increasing their wages by 30 per cent, alongside additional bonuses.”

One of the foundations of our successful operations are our long-term relations with business actors and local communities. This is also applicable in Serbia, where we this year allocated 100,000 euros for social responsibility projects

When it comes to inclement weather, Radičević stresses that, according to the assessments of EU experts, we are witnessing what is probably the worst drought in the last 500 years, and poor weather conditions haven’t bypassed our country. “However, according to preliminary assessments, we are far above average, which is a remarkable achievement given the circumstances. Unfavourable climatic conditions can’t be avoided, but possible ramifications can be forestalled through the use of modern technologies and ‘precision’ agriculture – planned irrigation, the use of satellite images, soil analysis and controlling heavy machinery remotely.

Al Dahra Serbia currently utilises the methods of precision agriculture on 5,000 hectares, while the plan is to cultivate a further 2,000 hectares in the same way by year’s end. “Apart from this, we plan to invest 80 million euros in our irrigation and soil drainage project over the next four years,” explains Radičević, before concluding: “the future of agriculture will be closely linked to the development of technology and the digitalisation of production processes. Provided we follow world trends and keep pace with the times, I’m convinced Serbia will become one of Europe’s leading countries in agronomy.”

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