The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has so far distributed considerable quantities of relief items for more than 26,000 households in 30 municipalities in Serbia through the programme European Union Assistance for Flood Relief in Serbia.
The aid was distributed within two flood relief projects financed from pre-accession funds, and the plan is to continue providing the assistance in 2016 through the project IPA 2014.
At today's FAO conference titled "Presentation of Current Results and Future Plans for Support to Agricultural Households in Serbia", Director of the Public Investment Management Office Marko Blagojević said that the European Union provided the greatest assistance for farmers following flooding in the total amount of EUR 9.5 million.
He stressed that flood-affected farmers, in addition to the assistance from the EU through the FAO, had received aid from the state through allocation of seeds for resowing of more than 16,000 hectares for 10,000 agricultural households, and also EUR 0.5 million for purchase of fuel and the same amount for purchase of fertilizer. The state also earmarked EUR 400,000 to help cattle breeders recover their livestock for every dead livestock unit, and also around EUR 0.5 million to clean the agricultural land destroyed by water borne deposition during flooding.
Blagojević noted that, in the following period, the Office would focus on managing risks of all natural disasters, not only flooding, underlining that every year the damage to Serbian agriculture caused by draughts only was larger than the one caused by flooding.
Minister of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Snežana Bogosavljević Bošković said that the European Union, within the second stage of the programme EU Assistance for Flood Relief in Serbia, approved from the IPA 2014 programme cycle a year-long project worth EUR 1.5 million to assist small farmers in the eastern Serbia, which was launched in November 2015. The following municipalities and towns are included: Majdanpek, Negotin, Svrljig, Zaječar, Boljevac, Kladovo and Knjaževac.
The project, funded by the EU, is implemented by the FAO, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and the Public Investment Management Office and local self-governments, said Bogosavljević Bošković.
The project aims to provide the small farmers who suffered flood-related damage with the assistance in the form of seedlings and seeds, fertilizers, fodder, plastic greenhouses, beehives and agricultural equipment and tools, noted Bogosavljević Bošković.
The Minister repeated that the agricultural sector was one of the hardest hit in the disastrous flooding which occurred in Serbia in May 2014, but that the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, with the significant assistance from international partners and donors, managed, in the shortest term possible, to eliminate the largest share of adverse consequences which occurred following this major hazard.
"Here, it is primarily necessary to express gratitude to the partners from the European Union who responded urgently and in a timely manner, both in terms of immediate intervention and engagement of special teams and equipment in the activities relating to the rescue of people and property, and in terms of subsequent provision of significant non-returnable resources for the purpose of reconstruction of affected areas", stressed Bogosavljević Bošković.
Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Michael Davenport said that the assistance for Serbian farmers funded by the EU in the amount of almost EUR 10 million was a part of the total grant of EUR 150 million the Union provided for flood relief purposes in Serbia.
Davenport underlined that around 108,000 people had a direct benefit from the project implemented by the FAO, counting not only the holders, but also the members of agricultural households.
The Ambassador expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and the Public Investment Management Office for their cooperation so far which brought about success in the project implementation, announcing its even more intensive development in future.