"Comrade Tito is dead," minister tells protesting farmers
Agriculture Minister Branislav Nedimovic says that raspberry harvest has not yet started, and that this year's price has not been determined yet.Source: B92
B92 has learned that the price is expected to be 5 to 10 percent lower than last years - when raspberry farmers were also dissatisfied.
This year they are protesting in the town of Prijepolje, and blocking the road to Montenegro.
"There are between 50 and 70 people there now. We've already spoken with them, they wouldn't lift the blockade. I'm not disputing anyone's right to protest, but I can't talk to somebody until the blockade has been lifted," Nedimovic told B92.
Speaking about the hints that the raspberry price will be low, Nedimovic said it is not determined by his ministry, and that it was still unknown anyway as the harvest is yet to start.
The state can't do much there because the market is changing, he said, adding that "red mixes" are now more in demand than the whole berry, while raspberries from Mexico have flooded the US and Canada, removing these countries' need to import from Serbia.
"On the other hand, the number of raspberry producers in Serbia, but also in Hungary, Poland, Bosnia, and Ukraine is increasing, there's more competition, and then the price suffers," he said.
The minister added that Serbia must find new markets, "one of them being the UAE."
Nedimovic also said that removing the expense of paying workers to do the harvesting, and using machines instead would make growing raspberries more profitable in Serbia.
Asked whether owners of storage facilities were also to blame for the low price - considering that this is something farmers are always complaining about - Nedimovic said it was "not true."
He stressed that producers must adjust to the new conditions and new work and harvest technologies, and can no longer "do as their grandpa did."
"I told them that Comrade Tito is dead," the minister said, referring to the life-long president of the former Yugoslavia, Josip Broz.