"Certificates, added value - key to success"
BELGRADE -- Acquisition of recognized certificates and work on adding value to products are of great significance for food export, a conference in Belgrade heard.
The conference marked the start of two technical cooperation projects whose goals are to provide support in establishing more efficient and integrated market chains in agriculture by improving food safety and quality in horticulture and meat processing.
This is according to organizers -the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture.
The first project will target the quality and safety standards in meat production, while the other one focuses of marking geographic origin on fruit and vegetables.
Head of the EBRD office in Belgrade Matteo Patrone believes that private agricultural business in Serbia has to follow the standards in the region, adding that the EBRF wants to convey its knowledge and experience in order to turn Serbia into a competitive market.
He listed as an example that only 6 out of 900 meat packing companies in Serbia are exporters and added that the private sector should have a more proactive role in that.
According to Patrone, 30 percent of EBRD investments in Serbia have gone into agribusiness.
Geographic origin markings should be found on products more often, he noted.
Economist at the FAO Investment Centre Dmitry Prikhodko said the FAO and EBRD worked together in Croatia and Macedonia to introduce geographic origin markings, and that they would do the same thing in Serbia.
Ministry of Agriculture official Branislav Raketic said 34 products in Serbia had geographic origin markings.
Agriculture makes up about 10 percent of GDP in Serbia and almost a quarter of the country's export (24 percent), and more than 20 percent of employed people in Serbia work in agriculture.
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