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The raspberry should be granted the status of a Serbian strategic product as it constitutes 64% in the total exports of fruit and realizes an annual income of some 200 million USD, says the Serbian Raspberry Association of Raspberry Growers. The president of the Association, Dragan Vukailović, said at a public debate in the Serbian Parliament that more than 40,000 people in 15 municipalities of western Serbia were engaged in the production of raspberries and that they expected the state to encourage raspberry production with systematic measures.
The systematic measures aimed at promoting the raspberry growing sector could double exports in several years, assessed Vukailović. The town of Arilje is the raspberry capital and one fifth of Serbian raspberries and 5% of the world ones, are picked there. Serbia is the world’s third top raspberry manufacturer and the world’s demand for that fruit keeps increasing. Therefore the state must protect this Serbian brand and its production by taking systematic measures. Manufacturers expect the ministry of agriculture to help them and prevent blackmail and unrealistic purchase prices. Now manufacturers have been compelled to sell raspberries at lower prices as they are unable to preserve it and wait for better market conditions. The Serbian Raspberry Association of Raspberry Growers proposes radical quality control measures and phytosanitary control in order that old raspberry varieties be preserved and new ones introdced. They also propose the formation of a national council which is to coordinate the implementation of systematic measures.
Assistant Agriculture Minister Nenad Katanić said that the raspberry was an important export product, which, however, is not enough for a strategic product status. According to him, only products that secure a population food-wise and with which the state can intervene in the market in emergency situations can be granted the status of a strategic product. The state has no mechanisms with which to influence the raspberry purchase price as the price depends on the situation in the market and the state is unable to purchase raspberries for the purposes of public reserves, said Katanić. The Ministry will help manufacturers resolve the problems and recommends that they should apply for subsidies with a view to promoting production and introducing new varieties, which would extend the harvest period from six weeks to five months.
According to agrarian expert Stevo Petrović, it is of the state interest that the raspberry should become a strategic product as it forms an important segment of exports and Serbia is recognizable in the world in terms of raspberry quality. He emphasized that it was thanks to the raspberry that tens of thousands of families in western Serbia survive as that region is underdeveloped. Raspberry growing constitutes 60% of the total incomes of the town of Arilje and their raspberries have a protected geographic origin. In the past five years, some 15,000 hectares have been planted with raspberries and the average yield has amounted to four tons per hectare, but there are also examples when, owing to agrotechnical measures, as much as 30 tons per hectare are picked. Radio Srbija
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