A small town of Ljubinje in the south of Herzegovina is a home to the Farmavit company, a producer of unique garlic products, homegrown in sunny Herzegovinian fields. They started their pioneering steps three years ago, and today they have become the unchallenged leaders in garlic production in Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond.
“The area was known for tobacco- growing, but today more garlic is grown here, which, according to some research, is one of the best in the world,” explains 28-year-old Stefan Šalvarica.
Stefan is one of the company’s employees and currently the most responsible for the garlic production process. While touring the production plant where various products are made, Stefan explains the company’s development path and its outstanding progress.
“Thanks to the support of the EU4Business project, we’ve succeeded in improving working conditions and productivity, reducing costs and offering unique products for our customers. As we’ve improved garlic production, our annual buy-off quantities went up by 10 tonnes,” says Stefan.
With the EU-funded project, the company resolved a major issue with heat energy sources, as well as the problem with steam generated in the process of thermal treatment of onions, making the work in production more difficult.
“Thanks to ventilation and air conditioning of the facility, we get rid of steam in a few minutes. Also, in the past, a significant share of work was done manually, and now with the help of new machines, the processes of filling, labelling and closing jars have been improved and accelerated,” explains Stefan.
The company has its own garlic plantations, but also buys certain quantities from its subcontractors in Herzegovina. One of them is 31-year-old Milan Slijepčević from Ljubinje, helped by his wife and mother in growing garlic.
“Garlic is difficult to grow because the entire process is done manually – from planting to extraction. Nevertheless, we are satisfied. Our efforts pay off because we have a guaranteed purchase and regular payment,” explains Milan, who is also employed by Farmavit in the garlic production process.
After the purchase, the garlic is sent for analysis before it is made into products available to customers on the shelves of supermarkets in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the brand ‘Scent of Herzegovina’.
“We produce garlic paste and various marinades consisting of homemade garlic dipped in spices, olive and sunflower oil. In addition, thanks to the EU4Business project, we now produce so-called black garlic,” says Stefan.
Black garlic results from the fermentation process of fresh garlic. In this process of accelerated aging, garlic changes colour, caramelises and its properties are enhanced. Due to its characteristics, this type of garlic is highly valued and sought after on the world market. With the purchase of a fermentation machine, the Farmavit company became the only producer of this onion in Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond.
Apart from plans for new marinades, the placement of black garlic and fresh garlic on the international market, the Farmavit company continues to invest in major plans to retain the already awarded title of unchallenged market leader.
“We have invested additional own funds in the purchase of equipment that will help us in the production of gelatine capsules filled with garlic extract. We will be the first company in the region and beyond to produce dietary supplements of this type,” says Stefan with satisfaction.
The Farmavit company was supported through the EU4Business project in the amount of BAM 150,000, while the value of the investment totalled to BAM 300,000.
Currently, the EU-funded EU4AGRI project has a public call open for the award of grants for investments in processing capacities and marketing of agri-food products in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Through this Public Call, the European Union will support investments in processing capacities of the agri-food industry by introducing innovations and developing new and/or improving existing products, marketing tools, and ensuring business continuity and a safe and healthy working environment in BiH.
The EU4AGRI project is a four-year initiative (2020-2024) aimed at modernising the agri-food sector, generating new jobs, as well as retaining the existing ones and supporting recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The total value of the project, funded by the European Union, is EUR 20.25 million. The project is jointly implemented and co-financed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in BiH and the Czech Development Agency (CzDA).
The EU4AGRI project has so far supported 45 investments of BiH farmers and companies with investments with a total value of EUR 10.7 million, of which BAM 6.3 million was financed by the EU.