Within the scope of the Local Integrated Development project, the European Union and UNDP, in co-operation with the municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supported genetically non-modified soybean producers by way of procuring soybean seeds and liaising them with the market and purchasers.
“Three years ago I decided to launch the production of soybeans, and in 2018 I had the first guaranteed purchase of products. This means that long before we even sowed the seeds, we knew the price of soybeans per kilogramme. It is up to us to choose whether to sow or not,” says Gavro Bradašević, showing us the land where he sowed 1.5 hectares of soybeans.
Having been in agriculture business for ten years, Bradašević currently cultivates around 30 hectares of land in the vicinity of Modriča. In May he became one of the producers of genetically non-modified soybeans supported through the Local Integrated Development project (LID), funded by the European Union, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). New seeds helped him expand his crops, and he hopes to see new soybean producers and incentives.
Soybeans production in Modriča has increased in the past years, and the neighbouring municipalities have seen a growing number of producers. In addition to Modriča, the Local Integrated Development project covers arable land in Odžak, Domaljevac, Gradiška and Orašje. On an area of over 1340 hectares of land, 238 farmers in the said municipalities planted seeds of genetically non-modified soybeans received through EU support.
The project invested around 230,000 convertible marks (KM) in seed procurement, and the farmers earned close to 3 million KM. Therefore, the farmers who participated in the LID project had revenues of close to 2,200 KM per hectare, which increased revenues of their households for around 10,000 KM.
21-year-old Mirko Ević from Orašje planted over 1 tonne of seeds on 10 hectares of land. Although he and his father have been growing soybeans for a while now, this was the first time that they had a guaranteed purchase of soybeans. “It was a good year, we had 350-400 kg returns per dunum. We sold the most of it to Bimal Company at the price of 0.63 KM per kilogramme. That is a good price,“ says Ević.
Strengthening of domestic producers
Soybeans have become a highlight in European agriculture, fodder industry and food industry. In order to cover for the shortage of proteins in fodder, the European Union imports around 23 million tonnes of soybean groats and 12.5 million tonnes of soybean kernel primarily from South America. However, about two thirds of import consists of genetically modified soybeans.
GMO supplies were first placed on the market in the 90s of the last century, and ever since then consumers’ concern has grown in relation to such supplies, especially in Europe. Consumers’ concern in the European Union resulted in the obligation to mark both genetically modified food and fodder. The Law on GMO in Bosnia and Herzegovina also prescribes a similar practice.
That is why BiH market increasingly shifts the focus on non-GMO seeds, which are in a high demand.
“Speaking of soybean production, the total quantity of this oil plant that could be produced in Bosnia and Herzegovina represents “a drop in the ocean of the global production” and so Bosnia and Herzegovina should definitely look for opportunities and competitiveness on the market of non-GM soybeans. Establishing a strong raw material basis for companies that are in the business of food production in BiH, would also mean the strengthening of domestic producers. One of the criteria of product quality is also a non-GMO production which is competitive on the domestic market and global market as well. Therefore, a non-GMO production is the future of a strong BiH agriculture“, submits Nada Ević from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry of Posavina Canton.
Genetically non-modified soybeans for the future of BiH economy
Support to the development of agriculture and the employment growth are some of the basic activities within the LID project, which helps the strengthening of local communities. It is exactly the agriculture that has a great chance of developing into one of the most successful branches of economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“According to the data provided by the Statistics Agency in BIH, the total area under soybeans in 2018 at the level of BiH amounts to around 8515 hectares which means that there is an increase in approximately 1000 hectares in relation to 2017. The reason for the increase in the area under soybeans is a higher profitability in relation to other crops per hectare, and a guaranteed purchase of all produced quantities of soybeans at the price of BAM 0.63 paid by certain companies”, states Dragoljub Malinović, Head of the Branch Unit in Gradiška within the Department of Experts Services in Agriculture of Republika Srpska.
Malinović believes that soybeans is becoming an attractive crop in our territory in view of deficit in the total needed quantities of soybeans at the level of Entities and at the state level as well, and considering the sowing of high-quality non-modified types, organised purchase per favourable prices, lower investments per hectare than in other crops and the incentives.
Oil plants growing, including soybeans, in BiH is profitable – the market is in place and the purchase guaranteed. This crop does not require special treatments in production and so it can be produced in the north of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Processing of soybeans at farms can also introduce the diversification of agricultural production in rural areas while addressing the needs of the market create new possibilities for farmers of Bosnia and Herzegovina and development of the domestic production.