While, due to poor economic situation and job scarcity, quite a few BiH citizens decide to change their place of living and go abroad in order to find a job, there are families which have decided to return to BiH after many years of living abroad and to make a living from their work.
One such family is the Savić family, including Sonja and Miladin and their two daughters, who have spotted their opportunity exactly in agriculture and fertile Semberija, and replaced the long-year work abroad in a secluded printing shop with the outdoor work in the Zagoni village in Bijeljina, Miladin’s birthplace.
Describing what he is doing in the countryside and why he has decided to make this step, Miladin says: “Here we can cultivate our food, watch it growing, know what we eat, drink and wash ourselves with. Practically, we have managed to make most of our products, starting from food and drink, to cosmetic and chemical products.”
The Savić family is dealing with the growing of strawberries and processing of agricultural crops, only those that they produce themselves, so in their household there are all kinds of oil, e.g. flax oil, coconut oil, rapeseed oil, aronia juice, strawberry juice and similar 100% natural juices. There are interested buyers for all these products, mainly townsmen; however, there was no organised purchase of products or any other professional or financial support.
While Miladin, his wife and two minor daughters work every day on the farm, he underlines that it is important for farmers to continuously learn and be informed.
“We have taken out the TV from our house and then our horizons have opened up. If one’s awareness is not blocked, required information finds its way to the recipient; you find what you are looking for” says Savić.
At the end of the last year, it was Miladin who received a piece of information very important for him about the Public call and the programme “Strengthening of integral agricultural production for the reduction of unemployment and substitution of import in the processing industry”. The Public call was intended to physical persons from the area of Bijeljina, for the support in activities of growing plants and production of red peppers, with the purpose of reduction of unemployment and increase of competitiveness of the local agricultural producers. The Call was announced within the project ‘’Local Employment Partnerships’’ funded by the European Union with EUR 4 Million, and implemented by the International labour Organisation. It was this Call in which Miladin found his chance to organise everything he likes to do and for which he earns certain income with the provided support in order to ensure his annual income in specific projected amount.
Miladin responded to the Public call, which was the first support that he received after he returned to the country. As the beneficiary of the Programme, among other things, he participated in the training for the greenhouse production.
“We haven’t been dealing with the production of vegetables, so the training was really useful for me; practically, now I can apply all I heard and learned about the growing of vegetables. We have just started for the first time the cultivation of vegetables, we are satisfied and our expectations are normal, according to the estimate of the project organiser. Weather permitting, we hope the estimate is reliable” says Miladin.
In order not to leave anything to chance, the project ensured the good-quality seedlings of red pepper, adequate plant health protection substances, protection of plants against accidents, fertilizers, subsidised irrigation system, and support of consultants in the area of agriculture throughout the phases of the cultivation of red pepper.
In addition, and it may be the most important for all beneficiaries of the programme, the sale of products is secured. A Bijeljina company, D.O.O. Sava Semberija assumed responsibility to purchase all quantities of red pepper to be produced within the project, at price agreed in advance.
While the red pepper is progressing well on the farms of the beneficiaries, in addition to the Savić family, 42 more agricultural producers, the process of transferring from non-commercial into commercial agricultural farms has been eagerly started, with belief that in this way new jobs can be created in agriculture, as an alternative for jobs in the corporate sector with ensured guaranteed sale of agricultural products and additional incentives from the local authorities.
In addition to the significant assistance of the European Union as a donor, joint action and coordination of activities by all members of the local employment partnership in charge of this project proved to be of vital importance for the implementation of the entire process. The members of the local partnership are the Centre of Civil Initiatives (CCI), Town of Bijeljina, Institute for Employment – Bijeljina Branch, company Sava Semberija d.o.o. Bijeljina, and Institution for adult education – Dositej from Bijeljina.