Farmers have had a lot of problems with drought this year, Marina Vulović from Čenta included. The weather conditions cannot be influenced, and farmers can only rely on their diligent work. Marina, with her husband and five children, cultivates the land, grows cereals, and works hard to improve production.

Born in Ivanjica, Marina (40) came to Čenta, her mother’s birthplace, after graduating from the Faculty of Agriculture in Belgrade, where she studied plant protection. Now she grows wheat, sunflower, corn, and applies her university knowledge in practice. However, this young, capable woman does much more. She raises five sons and takes care of the household, works in the field, raises cattle… But one of the more interesting scenes with Marina, a smiling blonde, was when she showed us how deftly she drives a huge tractor, leaving a cloud of dust behind her.

And what a tractor it was! A John Deere!

Above all, this powerful, new piece of equipment ensures safety. This giant pulls a threshing machine, a trailer, and other equipment, and is of great help in all farming stages, managed by Marina, but also during the work around the cattle, which is managed by her husband. They both have their own portion of the business, but it is only natural that they help each other, having in mind that agriculture is primarily a family business. However, when they decided to buy a tractor, they applied for financial incentives, in Marina’s name.

IPARD – Instrument for pre-accession assistance for rural development, is an EU programme dedicated to helping farmers in Serbia improve their business: It favours those who do business responsibly and strives to support female entrepreneurship.

The Directorate for Agrarian Payments, therefore, realised that Marina is one of the few female farmers in Serbia, who is hands-on engaged in agriculture, and after meeting other criteria of the call for proposals, she was awarded grants through IPARD, secured by the European Union. Over EUR 35,000 euros, to be precise.

“The application process includes a certain amount of paperwork; the process seemed complicated to me at first, so I hired a consulting agency,” she explains, adding that IPARD money can be used to cover those costs, too.

“I was nervous when people from the Directorate came for inspection – I knew that I had done everything right, but still, it was a lot of money,” Marina says honestly.

However, it turned out that she had no reason to worry, and now she encourages all farmers to apply with IPARD, adding that she will probably apply again.

What is IPARD?

IPARD stands for the Instrument for pre-accession assistance for rural development. Its potential beneficiaries include individuals, owners of agricultural holdings and entrepreneurs, or business associations and cooperatives.

The minimum and maximum amounts of reimbursements vary, depending on the measure, ranging from 5,000 to 2,000,000 euros.

IPARD III (2021-2027), a fresh cycle of funding, is under preparation and once launched, it will secure additional funding for Serbian farmers.

More information on how to apply with IPARD is available here.

Since 2000, the European Union has donated 230 million euros for agriculture and food safety in Serbia. Raising competitiveness, food safety and public health standards, respect for animal welfare, and environmental standards are the main areas of EU assistance to this sector. IPARD (Instrument for pre-accession assistance for rural development) is the leading programme in this area, within which Serbia has been allocated with 175 million euros for the period 2014-2020, with additional 55 million euros of national co-funding, and it is intended for agricultural producers.