Committee Sittings outside of the National Assembly Seat

Kraljevo

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Fourth Sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee

At the sitting held on 15 September, the members of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee discussed the topic: Agriculture – influence of the food processing industry on the development of agricultural family households, especially small and medium-sized ones.


15 September 2016  Fourth Sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee

15 September 2016 Fourth Sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee

The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Milan Cupic briefed the Committee members on the basic characteristics of rural areas in Serbia. He opined that the development of villages and primary agricultural production is a broad topic which should be addressed by society at large, not just the relevant ministry and local self-governments. The 2011 popular census data indicates unfavourable demographic trends in the country and its rural areas. The period between 2002 and 2011 saw an overall population drop of 4%, reaching up to 11% in rural areas and having the population numbers in villages drop below 3 million. Data also shows that 40% of Serbia’s population lives in rural areas which are characterised by an increased number of elderly and exodus of young people so that one in five rural denizens is over 65 years of age. All the abovementioned with a decreased ratio of highly educated citizens among the rural population is an aggravating factor for the economic development of rural areas and lack of investors’ interest, concluded Cupic. The situation in the region is quite similar, and the projection that the population numbers in Serbia will drop by 1.5 million people by 205o is cause for concern.

Cupic added that local self-governments play a very important role in the development of rural areas, especially in the development of infrastructure which would improve the quality of living among rural populace as well as attract potential investors. In addition, the role of local self-governments is also to identify and list all property on their territories and connect small household farms with local tradespeople and processing businesses who are the most stable buyers. The Ministry representative also briefed the Committee on the activities and measures intended for small households and processing businesses. For small household farms the Ministry covers part of production costs through subsidies and reimbursements, as well as premiums and stimulation packages. Speaking of processing businesses, the owners receive a number of stimulation packages primarily to boost competitiveness and product quality standards. Cupic said that an individual request submitter receives 40 to 55% of the value of the investment, while a small household farm can receive up to 2.5 million RSD at most.

In the ensuing debate the Committee members exchanged opinions on some of the problems faced by small farms, potential use of IPA funds, putting unused land back into use, the need to amend the Law regulating the return of rough grazings and pastures to villages for use and rulebooks regulating the right of households from marginalised areas to use budget funds, commassation, etc. The Committee members also urged to hold a sitting in Presevo and include the Ministry of Economy in debates topics of this kind. They also spoke about anti-hail protection, amendments to the VAT system with the purpose of bringing all the producers into the same position, the need to review the Ministry’s quarterly reports concerning agriculture and 2015 Green Book, and the need to amend the classification of administrative units in Serbia and introduce the term of village. They also spoke at length about cooperatives and ownership of agricultural land.

Representatives of agricultural associations and organisations from several Serbian towns took part in the debate and shared the agriculturalists’ problems which mainly concern production and cooperation with buyers, and also gave some concrete suggestions how they could be addressed.

The sitting was also attended by the Mayor of Kraljevo Dr Predrag Terzic and the President of Kraljevo Municipal Assembly Nenad Markovic.

Finally, the Committee passed the following conclusions: the Committee recommends to the Government and the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, as well as other relevant authorities, to focus on agricultural production in villages for the purpose of developing agricultural production, processing industry and demography; to that end, the Committee recommends focusing on the development of cooperatives; the Committee recommends making sure that owners and co-owners of the food processing industry be agricultural producers; the Committee recommends considering the possibility that investments into agriculture, storage and processing be paid as stimulation packages; the Committee recommends instating the office of assistant or state secretary in charge of village and rural development at the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection; the Committee recommends considering the possibility to reprogram the debts for pension, disability and health insurance of agriculturalists and to modify and improve the system; the Committee recommends reviewing regulations and rulebooks with vocational associations and harmonising them; the Committee recommends improving anti-hail protection due to the damages done to agriculture, to introduce anti-hail protection as a separate item on the budget and have the damage assessors be independent; the Committee will continue with the practice of meeting outside of the National Assembly seat, and one of the coming sittings will be held in Presevo; the Committee recommends considering the possibility to, in communication with the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, introduce the category of village in the names of settled areas and territorial units.

The Committee held the sitting outside of the National Assembly seat, in Kraljevo, 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.

The sitting was attended by the following Committee members and deputy members: Radovan Jancic, Prof. Dr Miladin Sevarlic, Veroljub Matic, Dr Ljubinko Rakonjac, Milija Miletic, Nenad Bozic, Tijana Davidovac, Zarko Bogatinovic, Marko Gavrilovic, Zvonimir Djokic, Dragan Jovanovic and Marko Milenkovic.

The sitting was chaired by Committee Chairman Marijan Risticevic.

Kraljevo: 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.