Obrenovac, Serbia -- The European Union (EU) will partner with FAO to help small-scale farmers in Serbia recover from the devastating floods of the past spring. An EU grant of EUR 8 million, aimed at restoring the livelihoods of the most vulnerable farming families, was announced at a ceremony here today.
Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy in Serbia and an important source of income for the majority of the rural population. Extraordinary rainfall in mid-May swelled rivers and provoked flooding and landslides. Damage and losses to the agriculture sector are estimated at EUR 228 million.
With EU funding, FAO's emergency response will support around 15 000 households in 24 municipalities with crop and livestock packages - including animal restocking - designed to help farmers re-establish production.
Agriculture inputs include seed, animal feed, fertilizer, building materials and other inputs to be procured on the local market to the maximum extent possible.
In flood-affected areas, the impact on agriculture was severe. Fields planted with wheat, maize and other food and fodder crops were washed out. Cows, sheep, pigs, poultry and other livestock were drowned or left without shelter. Storage buildings and other farm infrastructure were damaged or destroyed.
The EU-funded assistance is expected to roll out immediately, beginning with identification of the most vulnerable small-scale households. Beneficiary selection will be carried out in consultation with the farming communities, local governments and Serbia's Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection.
'FAO is committed to the people of Serbia and to the EU for timely and efficient delivery of this assistance,' said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia. 'The important thing is to enable people to get back to farming and recover their livelihoods as soon as possible.'
Assistance will be provided to farming households in Bajina Bašta, Čačak, Jagodina, Koceljeva, Kosjerić, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Krupanj, Lazarevac, Ljubovija, Loznica, Mali Zvornik, Obrenovac, Osečina, Paraćin, Šabac, Šid, Smederevska Palanka, Svilajnac, Trstenik, Ub, Valjevo, Varvarin and Velika Plana.
This EU grant is part of a larger EU flood-recovery package for Serbia. In addition, FAO has allocated US$ 645 000 from its own budget and is implementing projects funded by other donors. It will continue dialogue with other potential donors to raise additional funds to assist small-scale farming families.
All flood-response activities for agriculture are integrated into an overarching emergency and rehabilitation programme, managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection with assistance from FAO.