Fruit growers are busy with the plum harvest in the orchards of northern Bosnia. The lion’s share of their produce will be processed at local factories, after which it will be shipped to buyers in the European Union and Russia.
Despite being in urgent need of reform, Bosnia’s agricultural sector has weathered the global pandemic better than others. It was among the few industries to record growth in exports in the first half of the year, albeit a meagre 2.5%.
Benjamin Vukotic, the director of the Zeraa Agriculture Investment Group that owns Bosnaplod, Bosnia’s biggest fruit processor, said group’s revenues were up 30% in the first half of 2020 from the same period a year ago.
“We signed contracts with our subcontractors during the period of the strictest lockdown without knowing what is going to happen,” said Vukotic. “We could afford such risk because we have an investor willing to support us, but agriculture in Bosnia lacks systemic government support.”
The sector employs 18% of Bosnia’s labour force and accounts for around 10% of its exports. However, it is in dire need for change, said Vjekoslav Vukovic, the head of Bosnia’s Foreign Trade Chamber. Reuters.com quoted Vukovic as saying: “We have to modernise it, provide subsidies, harmonise regulations with EU standards and fight for foreign markets.”