Croatian Producers Question Minister Over Common Agricultural Policy

The Minister of Agriculture told award-winning producers about the country’s national strategic plan for the agricultural sector and listened to their concerns.
Marinko Petkovic
Jul. 19, 2021
Marinko Petkovic

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The Croatian min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture has pre­sented some of the coun­tries’ top pro­duc­ers with a draft strate­gic plan to imple­ment the new Common Agricultural Policy.

Along with rec­og­niz­ing the record achieve­ments of Croatian pro­duc­ers at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, Marija Vučković and Anita Sever-Koren, the direc­tor of the Directorate for Agricultural Policy, told the pro­duc­ers that the new CAP would pro­vide more ben­e­fits for smaller pro­duc­ers.

However, Vučković warned that the CAP would not solve all of the pro­duc­ers’ prob­lems, and they would need to work together to achieve some changes.

See Also: New CAP Provides Plenty of Opportunities for Italian Olive Growers

She pointed out that the Covid-19 pan­demic had demon­strated their reliance on the hos­pi­tal­ity and restau­rant sec­tor.

While funds from the emer­gency Covid relief pack­age helped many Croatian farm­ers stay afloat through the cri­sis, new tech­nolo­gies and stronger pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tions are needed to strengthen the sec­tor.

There is no rural devel­op­ment with­out peo­ple, and no organic agri­cul­ture with­out organic food, or its pro­duc­ers,” she said, but added that only 12 per­cent – 15,000 to 16,000 fam­i­lies out of 180,000 – are cur­rently in the sys­tem.

She said that farm­ers work­ing infor­mally should come into the sys­tem, empha­siz­ing that it would be harder for them to obtain ben­e­fits from the CAP oth­er­wise.

Sever-Koren said that the sys­tem estab­lished by the pre­vi­ous CAP would be refor­mu­lated. Currently, 30 per­cent of sup­port goes to just seven per­cent of ben­e­fi­cia­ries, or 1,324 farm­ers. She added that more farm­ers would receive a larger share of ben­e­fits in the future. Farmers with more than 81,000 hectares of land will see their sub­si­dies cut.

Marija Vučković, Croatian agri­cul­ture min­is­ter

Agricultural land in Dalmatia, Zagora or Istria, is of great inter­est to olive grow­ers, who com­plained that they had lim­ited access to bank loans to finance land pur­chases.

The min­is­ter replied that new laws were being drafted in three Dalmatian regions – Imotski, Drniš and Konavle – as a pilot project to address the issue.

Tomislav Duvnjak, the pro­ducer behind Vodice D.O.O. who helped orga­nize Dalmatian pro­duc­ers and is pri­mar­ily cred­ited for their over­whelm­ing suc­cess at the 2021 NYIOOC, warned that the process would take too long, requir­ing grow­ers to fill out hun­dreds of doc­u­ments. He said that the length and dif­fi­culty of the process had already caused some pro­duc­ers in the region not to bother.

Duvnjak added that pro­duc­ers from across Croatia needed to pay bet­ter atten­tion to label­ing their olive oils. He argued that improved labels would make them more com­pet­i­tive in for­eign mar­kets.

Several objec­tions to the dif­fi­cultly of doing busi­ness in Istria, pri­mar­ily due to numer­ous admin­is­tra­tive bar­ri­ers, were made by Tedi Chiavalon from Vodnjan. He pointed out that due to the poten­tial of domes­tic olive oil in the world, olive grow­ers are look­ing for spe­cial sta­tus for their prod­ucts or spe­cial pro­grams to sup­port them as olive cul­ti­va­tion becomes increas­ingly dif­fi­cult to the penin­sula due to the effects of cli­mate change.

Chiavalon added that pro­duc­ers are falling behind their com­peti­tors in Italy and Spain. He coop­er­ates with 28 olive grow­ers in Istria, but this coop­er­a­tion so far has not yielded a con­sid­er­able enough mar­ket advan­tage.

Damir Buntić, another grower from the Vodice region, warned that the lack of a cen­tral­ized olive oil asso­ci­a­tion in the coun­try was hin­der­ing its devel­op­ment. He warned that the sec­tor would not move for­ward if the olive groves across the region were not fully accounted for.

Other pro­duc­ers said there is a grow­ing prob­lem with the irri­ga­tion of olive groves, which comes despite their claim that five rivers in Croatia run directly to the Adriatic Sea and pro­vide plenty of water.

In terms of pro­duc­tion going into the 2021 olive har­vest, Mirko Krtelić, from the Valley of Olives near Nadin, said that he expected to lose 25 per­cent of his har­vest as a result of the drought that dried out many of his trees’ blos­soms this year.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Croatia pro­duced 40,278 hec­to­liters of olive oil in 2020, a decrease of 9.5 per­cent com­pared to 2019, but about seven per­cent above the rolling five-year aver­age.


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