Organized on behalf of Mr Maarten Wegen, Agriculture Attaché, Agriculture Department, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with Regional Offices for Agriculture in both Serbia as well as in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In cooperation with the University of Kragujevac, Faculty of Agronomy in Cacak, Serbia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Two Dutch experts, Mr Romke Wustman (Wustman Potato Consultancy and freshly retired Senior potato specialist from Wageningen University & Research centre) and Mrs Françoise van den Broek (Business Developer Dutch Postharvest Network, specialized in agro-logistics and supply chain management) were invited by the Embassy to give their views and share their expertise on post-harvest management in general and potatoes in particular. They arrived Monday 19 October 2015 and had a preliminary meeting on all the details of the program for the upcoming week at the Dutch Embassy in Belgrade. They also had the chance to meet part of the Embassy team, responsible for agriculture in Serbia.
First Post-harvest Management Seminar
Tuesday 21 October the first Post-harvest Management Seminar took place at the University of Kragujevac, Faculty of Agronomy, Cacak, Serbia. Amongst the speakers were the State Secretary from the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Zeljko Radosevic, the Vice Dean of the Faculty, Dr Ivan Glisic and Prof Dr Drago Milosevic, professor of phytopathology. The seminar was very well attended. Amongst the participants were Mr Vladimir Grujovic, Head of the City Administration for Local Economic Development, City of Cacak, representatives of commercial businesses such as Pepsico, representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture – Phytosanitary Directorate and Extension /Advisory Service Unit, local government, representatives of local growers’ association and of course potato growers and students of the Faculty.
Mrs Françoise van den Broek spoke about ‘Reducing food losses & increasing value’, Mr Romke Wustman spoke on two subjects: ‘The need to store potatoes’ and ‘Technology for potato storage’. Besides the two Dutch expert speakers, also two very well adept local speakers joined the seminar: Mr Zivko Bugarcic, who spoke about ‘Potato production technologies’ and Prof Zoran Brocic, who spoke about ‘Requirements of local markets – packaging and marketing, access to other markets’.
After the seminar a delegation of special invitees joined a late lunch, after which the local and Dutch experts and the Agriculture Attaché left for the next stop: Zlatibor.
On Wednesday 22 October the delegation made two field visits to potato storage facilities of Solanum Product Company in the vicinity of Rogatica, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Before the field visits, the experts were received by the Mayor of the municipality of Rogatica, Mr Tomislav Puhalac. The first storage facility had been set-up with Dutch expertise and Dutch investments from the former Private Sector Investment programme (PSI). Mr Romke Wustman has been involved as an expert in this project in 2013 as well. Interesting aspect of the second potato company was that it was part of a voluntary cooperation between eighteen potato growers.
After the field visits the delegation of local and Dutch attendees left for the hotel in Sarajevo. In the evening they had a very nice and welcoming pre-dinner drink and enjoyable dinner at the residence of the Dutch Ambassador in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr Jurriaan Kraak and his wife, Mrs Kraak. Together with Mr Alexandre Prieto and Mr Mokhtar Ahdouga of the United Nations Development Programme, Srebenica Regional Recovery Programme and Leila Fetahagic of the Dutch Embassy in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Second Post-harvest Management Seminar
On Tuesday 22 October the second Post-harvest Management Seminar took place at Hotel Grand, Sarajevo. This seminar was opened by the Dutch Ambassador, Mr Jurriaan Kraak.
Attendees consisted of potato growers, employees of Extension Service Programs, local governments and potato and soft fruit processing industry (such as EKO-PLOD) from the wider periphery of Sarajevo (about three to four hours drive by car) and Mrs Loes Lammerts, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Sarajevo.
Institute of Agriculture, Phytosanitary Laboratory
On Friday 23 October the Dutch experts visited the Institute of Agriculture, Phytosanitary Laboratory of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The team of experts and Embassy delegate, Mrs Leila Fetahagic were welcomed by Dr Omer Kurtovic, Director and his very motivated staff members. The latter were proud to show their new facility and modern equipment.
Next steps will be defined in the near future. They could consist of a first investigation of the most important product/market combinations, followed by the establishment of a first business case and in parallel the set-up of an agro-logistics platform with both local as well as Dutch companies represented in the Balkan countries.
Some of the current bottlenecks
- Many small holders, complicated land ownership and complex land related issues;
- Funding of projects;
- Need for capacity building;
- Hiring freeze civil servants also for phytosanitary laboratories, different inspection services etc.);
- Overall governmental vision (for the Balkan Region as a whole) on the development of the agriculture sector;
- Economic situation and business climate;
- Trade facilitation;
- Lack of proper business cases, understanding of market opportunities.
Françoise van den Broek, Business Developer Postharvest Network
Romke Wustman, Wustman Potato Consultancy