FAO and the EU will start a second round of assistance to flood-affected small-scale farms this month. Over 7,000 households engaged in farming and not included in the first round of the EU assistance applied. Assistance in the second round will reach 23 municipalities which participated in the first round and six additional municipalities.
Apart from the additional assistance for farmers through the European Union donation, the Government of Serbia adopted the National Program for Flood Relief at Agricultural Land worth around 60 million dinars to include all registered farming households and family farms whose land was hit by floods last year.
When the heaviest rains in 120 years since records began struck in May 2014, the damage to agriculture – livestock, crops, machinery, and infrastructure – was severe: estimated at as much as 228 million Euros.
In Serbia, the European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched the program of practical assistance to small-scale family farms worth 8 million Euros, within the 30 million Euro fund the EU allocated for flood recovery efforts in Serbia. A total of 24 of the hardest-hit municipalities in western and central Serbia received the assistance in the first round.
Beneficiaries were informed and applications filled in, collected and reviewed in collaboration with local self-governments, and over the following weeks and months, 18,907 households started receiving agricultural assistance packages: animal feed, seeds and fertilizer, fruit tree seedlings, and replacement livestock and equipment such as milking machines, tractor accessories, pumps, plastic greenhouses and beehives. The goods were bought mainly from local suppliers in Serbia, following an open tender process.
With the first round of assistance for farmers almost completed, the European Union and FAO will now use the remaining funds to assist the households that did not apply in the first round, and help farmers in six more municipalities and towns in central Serbia: Ćuprija, Gornji Milanovac, Ljig, Lučani, Petrovac na Mlavi, and Smederevo.
In addition, the second round of assistance will make use of the UN FAO funds to provide 13 new municipalities and towns with livestock feed this summer: Boljevac, Ćuprija, Gornji Milanovac, Kladovo, Knjaževac, Ljig, Lučani, Majdanpek, Negotin, Petrovac na Mlavi, Smederevo, Svrljig, and Zaječar.
- It is good to see small-scale farmers restarting their production, owing in part to the EU-FAO assistance - said Aleksandar Mentov, FAO National Project Manager in Serbia.
- But preparing the agricultural sector to cope with possible natural disasters in future is equally important. Building resilience on local, regional and national level involves raising risk awareness, planning and specific training – for government institutions, municipalities and farms, he added.