Serbian farmers will be approved 180 million euros to utilize for improving competitiveness of agriculture within the IPARD 2 program (IPA Rural Development) which is a part of the EU pre-accession assistance. The program will be implemented from 2015 to 2020 and is dedicated to end users - farmers and agricultural processing manufacturers, as well as to those involved in rural tourism, said Mr Dragan Mirković, Head of the Department of Rural Development of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, at the presentation of the program in the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (SCC). It has been planned that the European Commission adopts and approves the IPARD2 program by the end of the year, completes the accreditation process during the 2015 and announces the calls for applicants to use of funds at the beginning of 2016.
The representatives of the SEKO mechanism for Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Citizens' Association "Leader + Banatski Karlovac" asked officials from the Ministry to give an additional explanation why the Measure 302 Diversification of rural economy envisages only tourism, since young entrepreneurs, services in rural areas, renewable energy, and the like could also use funds envisaged by this measure.
Mr Aleksandar Bogunović, a representative from the Ministry, said that the Ministry envisaged to provide support to other measures by the National Program for Agriculture and Rural Development.
The next question was related to the Leader measure and Mr Bogunović responded that the Leader was included in the IPARD Program 2014-2020, but that it was envisaged no sooner than at the end of the program period, due to the limited capacities of the Administration for Agricultural Payments.
Mr Danilo Golubović, State Secretary from the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, said that it is the aim that during the EU negotiations Serbian agriculture prepares for the demanding market of the European Union and to become competitive and ready for great challenges. Beside significant funds which will be available to farmers within the IPARD2 program, it is very important that a clear and transparent system of allocation of funds will be established through this program, explained Mr Golubović, who is also the chief negotiator with the EU in the field of agriculture.
The Secretary of State pointed out that 75 per cent of EU legislation relates to agriculture and ecology, which means that the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection is facing great challenges and have complex tasks to execute.
Nenad Budimović, Secretary of the Agriculture Chamber of Commerce, said he expects that the Chamber as the largest association and representative of the interests of the Serbian economy, will have an active role in the implementation of the IPARD Program 2 through the cooperation with the respective Ministry.