Faced with unemployment, Mirza Đogić of Prozor Rama decided to start a business 21 years ago in the hope that it would provide livelihoods for his large family. Today, Mirza is the owner of a company synonymous with quality products on the European Union market. For several hundred families in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this business is a reliable source of income.
The company Šumski plod from Prozor Rama operates in purchase and processing of agricultural and forest fruits, medicinal herbs and mushrooms. Fresh, dried and frozen products are mostly exported to the international market where they have their own steady network of customers.
“It is difficult to place products on the domestic market, and even more difficult to find your place in Europe and the world. Our greatest success is that European companies have recognised us as a supplier of safe and quality products,” explains Mirza. He adds that he shares the credit for the success with more than four hundred of his subcontractors in the production of berries alone.
For this company and its subcontractors, the global pandemic had raised concerns about a possible shutdown and further product placement. They overcame their fears thanks to the support received through the EU4Business project.
“In such a challenging year, we have provided disinfectants and a disinfection tunnel, as well as machines for disinfecting vehicles and equipment, and one part of the packaging. Top-quality equipment helped us protect ourselves from infection, but also to protect our products. This assistance meant a great deal,” says Mirza.
With this project, Šumski plod company succeeded to increase the standards of the production process, and thus raise the level of protection of people and food. The project also co-financed the purchase of agricultural machinery, protective equipment and supplementary food for about 30 subcontractors, including Safet Huntić.
“We used to work all day in one field, and now, with the help of machines, we can do the job in a couple of hours. In addition to making the job easier, we save energy and manage to finish other tasks during the day,” explains Safet.
For the last eight years, the Huntić family has been growing raspberries that they sell to Šumski plod company, thus earning regular and needed income. With the equipment provided thanks to the European Union funding, they decided to expand their plantations.
“Now that we have equipment to grow raspberries more easily, we decided to expand production. “Raspberries are a lifebelt for my family, since we can’t live off of my pension alone,” adds Safet.
Mirza says without hesitation that the strength of economic development is in agriculture, but the support of the state and various projects such as EU4BUSINES is also important. The population of Bosnia and Herzegovina is migrating in great numbers to third countries and such assistance is very important for keeping young families living from agricultural production. Surely this project has stopped some of them from leaving the country. I would recommend young people to engage in agriculture because in our country we have enough capacity for successful performance,” adds Mirza.
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. EU4Business project supported a total of 82 companies across BiH.
The projects are implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in partnership with the Czech Development Agency (for EU4Business and EU4Business-Recovery) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the International Labor Organization (ILO) (for EU4BusinessRecovery).