Serbia strengthens agriculture’s resilience against disasters with the help from FAO and the EU
A two-day virtual workshop marked the official launch of a project strengthening disaster resilience in Serbia’s agriculture sector
28 April 2021, Belgrade, Serbia – A two-day virtual workshop marked the official launch of a project strengthening disaster resilience in Serbia’s agriculture sector. The EUR 2.5 million project is funded by the European Union, and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Climate change and natural disasters, including drought, floods and hail have a profound impact on Serbia, affecting large numbers of the population and causing significant economic losses. The agricultural sector is among the most affected.
“Project is the direct result of the expressed intention of both National Authorities of Serbia and the EU to engage in action to boost resilience and adaption to climate change in all sectors, including agriculture. Policy change, capacity building, elaboration of curriculum in education and demonstration activities at farm level will allow Serbia to make one step ahead in developing more productive and sustainable agriculture”, said Spyros Afentoulidis, Project Manager of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia in his introductory speech.
Assistant Minister for agricultural policy Nenad Katanić welcomed participants on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Management, emphasizing the ideal moment of the project implementation, since the Ministry has just formed a new organizational unit that will deal with the impact of climate change and natural disasters on agriculture. "I hope that this comprehensive project will provide excellent results, we are aware that capacities of the Ministry are not sufficient to adequately respond to these challenges, but together with local self-governments, agricultural extension services and the project itself we can achieve a lot".
Sandra Nedeljković, Deputy Director of Public Investment Management Office thanked the European Union for support and stressed that, as a society, we have forgot about the prevention, but since the floods in 2014 we have been actively working on it: ‘’It is not a question whether natural disasters will happen, but only when, and agriculture is one of the most affected sectors”.
FAO National Programme Coordinator for Serbia Aleksandar Mentov, noted that the purpose of the workshop is to present a new project funded by the EU and implemented by FAO, which aims to improve capacities for disaster risk reduction and climate resilient agriculture in Serbia, at both national and local levels.
Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of European Integration, and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, as well as the Provincial Secretariat for Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry, the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, local governments, the Institute for Science Application in Agriculture also took part in the introductory workshop. Agricultural extension and advisory services, agricultural schools, as well as representatives of farmers actively participated in the project launch.
Jeroen Arends, an international expert on climate change, showed participants the impact that climate change has on the agricultural sector in Serbia, as well as the risks of natural disasters.
After his presentation, Carolina Starr, the leader technical officer for the project, elaborated on the project’s two main components.
On one hand, the project will ensure the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate-smart agriculture principles into agriculture policies at national and local levels. The aim of this component is to strengthen institutional resilience of the agricultural sector against climate change. To realize this, FAO will work directly with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, agricultural advisory services, agricultural high schools, local self-governments, and other relevant institutions and organizations.
On the other, applying climate-smart agriculture will help reduce the risk of natural disasters. Practical measures and demonstration fields will provide examples of climate-resilient agriculture, while farmers can access up-to-date knowledge, technologies, and practices related to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The event concluded with an interactive workshop on climate smart agriculture and disaster risk reduction and management. Over 80 representatives from various institutions and organizations, as well as farmers exchanged views and proposals on climate-resistant agriculture, but also on approaches to implementing project activities and the roles of all partners. They confirmed their interest in learning more about the climate change impact on Serbia’s agriculture, and especially about the ways to reduce climate risks and invest into new knowledge.