The fifth day of the 88th Novi Sad Agricultural Fair celebrates 20 years of cooperation between Serbia and the European Union. The focus is on food safety, and EU support aims to improve all aspects of agriculture.

The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Emanuele Giaufret and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Branislav Nedimović visited the most significant agricultural event in Serbia today.

As Ambassador Giaufret said in his address, the joint efforts of the EU and Serbia have yielded important results: since 2019, no cases of rabies and classical swine fever have been detected. The EU has supported the fight against and eradication of these two dangerous diseases with over EUR 20 million, through procurement for vaccination, equipment and capacity building.

“EU aid in the field of food safety will not stop there. We will provide the management of the National Reference Laboratories with the most modern analytical equipment. This institution is the centre of Serbian food safety laboratories, but it also played a vital role in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of the samples were tested there using the equipment previously donated by the EU,”  said Ambassador Giaufret.

Minister Nedimović notes that important meetings regarding the IPARD III programme are planned soon, that trade with EU members has intensified thanks to constant investments, and that Serbia faces challenges in the field of food safety.

“I have to thank the European Union for all the donations they gave us for the Food safety laboratory in Batajnica. Don’t forget that we couldn’t even imagine this seven or eight years ago. Today it is our reality and many people did not understand the importance of opening that laboratory. Now that some food is problematic, we have a place to control it ourselves and remove such products from the market,” said Minister Nedimović, who reminded of the role that the laboratory in Batajnica played in testing for the coronavirus in the first months of the pandemic.

“Serbia’s agricultural exports to the EU have more than doubled in the last decade. Last year, Serbia had a positive trade balance of over EUR 0.5 billion in agricultural products and has made significant progress in the agricultural sector in recent years, both on its own and with EU assistance, but much remains to be done”, Giaufret said.

“In the forthcoming period, taking into account Chapters 11 and 12 of the accession negotiations, Serbia should make greater progress in implementing stricter food hygiene controls, managing animal by-products and strengthening food chain control laboratories in line with EU standards,” said Ambassador Giaufret.

The events at the Novi Sad Fair represent the official start of the campaign “For our fields – the EU for agriculture“, which is jointly implemented by the EU Delegation to Serbia and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management.

The goal of this promotional and media campaign is to inform the public in Serbia about the improvements in the agricultural sector, which are the result of significant EU investments in the past two decades.

Since 2000, the European Union has donated EUR 230 million for agriculture and food safety in Serbia. Environmental protection and human health, food safety, animal welfare, keeping the soil in good condition – are the main areas of assistance to this sector.

The main EU tool to help Serbian farmers catch up with their EU counterparts is the IPARD programme. Farmers are allocated funds to participate in investments in physical assets, such as tractors, in the processing and marketing of agricultural products, in farm diversification and business development, as well as for technical assistance.

More information about applying for the IPARD programme