Committee Sittings outside of the National Assembly Seat

Leskovac

Thursday, 8 October 2015

32nd Sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee

At the sitting held on 8 October, the members of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee deliberated on the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Activity Information for the period October-December 2014, and the agricultural production problems in the Jablanica District.


8 October 2015  Participants of the sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee

8 October 2015 Participants of the sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee

The Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Activity Information for the period October-December 2014 was presented by acting assistant minister of agriculture and environmental protection Mladen Mladenovic who said that, in the fourth quarter of 2014, the authorities passed laws enabling the funding of agricultural production, water management and payment of agriculture and rural development stimulation packages. Three bilateral agreements were also signed, a series of rulebooks was adopted, and the IPA Committee adopted IPARD II - pre-accession rural development assistance whose promotion began this year. Agricultural inspection conducted more than 6,000 controls, and regarding the processing of requests for agricultural production stimulation packages, out of the 2,003 requests submitted, 1,098 were paid, two were not paid, and the rest were rejected. Mladenovic then focused on the work of the Water Directorate and the budget funds spent to maintain the dams, work on water processing facilities, work on river channels, flood protection and emergency assistance. Speaking about the Veterinary Directorate, Mladenovic focused on the work done to contain the spread of bluetongue disease and inspections conducted in 25 districts – almost 30,000 regular official inspections and about 1,000 extraordinary ones. Mladenovic also said that the Directorate for National Reference Laboratories has called a public procurement for lab equipment worth 40 million RSD, and that the phytosanitary lab is fully equipped and ready for work.

Discussing the Information, the Committee members repeated the questions that the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection had not answered – procurement of vaccines against bluetongue disease, analysis of the disease-carrying mosquitos, investment into livestock breeding, implementation of the rulebook on agricultural stimulation packages in practice, promotion of the IPARD programme at the local level, payment of pension and disability insurance contributions, GMO control of agricultural production, normalisation of the export of animal products (food) into China, etc.

Afterwards the Committee members unanimously adopted the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Activity Information for the period October-December 2014, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Activity Information for the period January-March 2015 which was discussed at one of the previous sittings.

The Committee then proceeded to discuss the problems of agricultural production in the Jablanica District.

Zarko Bogatinovic, MP from Leskovac, presented the agricultural potential of the city and the Jablanica District. He said that Leskovac has 60,000 ha of land, 50,000 ha of which is arable land, and 30,000 ha is dedicated to crop production. Vegetable production covers 8,000 ha in open fields and greenhouses, and Leskovac is the leader in vegetable production in Serbia. Leskovac and the Jablanica District lack processing capacities, so 25% of the products go to waste, which is one of the biggest problems. Another big problem the producers have are the low prices stemming both from the volume of the surfeit products and competition from the neighbouring countries. Fruit production is also in expansion in Leskovac, with fruit land covering 7,000 ha. Plums, apples, pears, sour cherries and lately raspberry, blackberry and strawberry are the dominant fruit. Livestock breeding in Leskovac struggles with the problem of small farms – 2.5 to 2.7 ha.

In the ensuing debate the Committee members exchanged opinions on the funding of production in underdeveloped and mountainous regions, allocation of local self-government funds for agricultural production stimulation packages, need for agricultural producers to pool their resources in order to improve product placement, and the construction of processing facilities. They also discussed agricultural production monopolies, reimbursements for the destruction of agricultural land for the purpose of sand and gravel exploitation, engagement of market and agricultural inspection by official duty before the buy-out of agricultural products, import of plant protection chemicals because of suspicions that the importers are diluting the product and weakening its effect, trucks stalled at border crossings for the purpose of customs clearance of fresh fruit exports, payment deadlines for products bought wholesale, possible stimulations for agricultural producers to encourage new employment, guaranteed prices of agricultural produce, private property comassation, construction of a collective-distributive centre for all types of agricultural products, processing facilities for 2nd and 3rd class products, etc.

Following the debate the Committee members unanimously adopted a Conclusion recommending that the Government and relevant ministries to protect vegetable and fruit producers and livestock breeders, support processing close to the production site, especially traditional production and processing techniques, to harmonise its directives and rulebooks on forest fruit and plants with practice, revoke ecological fees on unprotected fruit types and pay after, not before buyouts.

The Committee also unanimously adopted the Conclusion regarding the permitted level of aflatoxins in milk, which it had discussed at one of the previous sittings. The Committee recommends that the permitted level of aflatoxins in milk be 0.25 micrograms, and to be lowered by 0.05 in the transitional period until it reaches 0.05 micrograms. The Committee recommends that the levels of aflatoxins in cattle feed be determined correspondingly to the permitted level in milk and the use of rulebooks and certificates during milk export-import to make sure the limits set by the import-export countries are respected, where the limit set for our market cannot be exceeded, the ministries should come up with measures in favour of these levels and due to frequent changes of the levels of aflatoxins in the last years and lack of systemic measures the heads of the veterinary and plant protection directorates should be dismissed.

The sitting was attended by acting assistant minister of agriculture and environmental protection Mladen Mladenovic, Mayor of Leskovac Goran Cvetanovic and representatives of the municipal authorities, secretary of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce Nenad Budimovic, Head of the Agricultural Inspection Nenad Vujovic, representatives of several associations of agricultural producers from Leskovac and the Jablanica District, representatives of the Leskovac Chamber of Commerce, as well as public enterprises from Leskovac.

The sitting held outside of the National Assembly headquarters in Leskovac was chaired by Committee Chairman Marijan Risticevic.

The sitting was organised with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), via project Strengthening the Oversight Role and Transparency of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.

Leskovac: Photo gallery

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Committee meetings outside the headquarters of the National Assembly are being organized and this sub-site has been produced with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), as part of the project "Strengthening the oversight role and publicity in the work of the National Assembly." The views and content on this subpage do not necessarily represent the views of UNDP and the SDC.