The Head of the EU Delegation Operations Section for Economic Development, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Johann Hesse, met fruit and vegetable producers in the village of Korai, in Lopare Municipality, on 13 July.
Hesse was visiting the Agro Koraj Agricultural Cooperative, which, together with six other cooperatives in northeast Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the beneficiary of an EU project to promote BiH agro-produce cooperatives.
The Agro Koraj Cooperative plans to use EU financial aid to: certify the cooperative and its 20 members under the GlobalGAP quality standard as well as under the HACCP quality standard. The Cooperative also plans to expand a cooperative network with 30 new fruit and vegetable producers; and to train a cooperative staff in strategic management and export marketing.
The cooperative management envisages that implementation of these activities will help it increase and diversify production, expand its exports to foreign markets, and create new full-time jobs.
Hesse also visited two members of the cooperative, involved in fruit and vegetable production. The EU project is providing one of the companies with financial assistance for the introduction of EU quality standards in primary fruit production, and the other with financial assistance to start vegetable production, training in contemporary vegetable production technologies, and inclusion in the Agro Koraj cooperative chain.
During his visit, Hesse stressed that economic development of BiH is central to the EU accession process, and he noted that IPA 2008 incorporated a programme to support SMEs, tourism and agriculture. He said 4 million Euros had already been disbursed in Bosnia and Herzegovina to support projects under this programme.
Project Manager Darko Ivanić added that the „Development of Agricultural Cooperatives” project, of which Agro Koraj is a beneficiary, is being financed by the EU with a grant of 370,000 Euros.