Raising farmer awareness and engaging with small scale farmers to establish an effective and targeted regional approach and to explore new business models
Compared with the size of agricultural holdings of EU Member States from 2010 (Eurostat FSS 2007/2010), the average size of a Croatian farm is below the EU average. In 2010, the farms in the EU15 utilized 24.1 ha of agricultural land on the average, while the average size of a Croatian farm was 5.6 ha. Among EU member states Croatia is closest to Slovenia (6.5 ha) and in WB region to Montenegro (4.5 ha). Due to the share of utilized agricultural area in total area Croatia (23.25%) is similar to Slovenia (23.8%), but due to the land use structures it has more similarity to Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Poland. Although data show that in Western Balkan region Serbia is the country with land structure similar to Croatia, data are not completely comparable due to the different observed years (Croatia-2010, Serbia-2012).
Livestock production, which contributes 37.5 % of the agricultural production value in Croatia, is a particularly important branch of agriculture in which many producers are involved. The process of transition to a market economy, changes in the structure of agriculture, liberalization of the domestic market and war, with all its consequences, have strongly influenced Croatian agriculture, particularly livestock production. These conditions do not favour compliance with hygiene, animal welfare or environmental standards. Beef production (breeding), together with milk, makes up the most important livestock production in total agriculture in terms of value of output, while pig production is the most important in terms of number of animals.
What is in place:
Due to the growing awareness that the rural economy is more than just agriculture, the goals of the future development were formally established through the Strategy of agriculture and fishery of the Republic of Croatia in 2002 (Official Gazette 89/02). The agricultural measures were no longer focused only on improving the agricultural activity (along with hunting, forestry and fishing), but extended to the entire rural area. In addition, a new emphasis was given to food security and organic farming as a special system of sustainable management and the possibilities that this system provides (Franić and Žimbrek, 2003). In Serbia ORCA has developed project called Farm Animal Welfare Standards in Serbia. The aim of the Farm Animal Welfare Standards in Serbia project is to create the conditions to increase animal production performance though the introduction of farm animal welfare standards. The project works on the state and regional/local level. Project also includes inputs from municipal farming services and cattle breeders, and cooperates with farmer’s associations, the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders. 350 small scale farms in Serbia were inspected on the basis of welfare standards which were developed by ORCA, University of Bristol and RSPCA. With the help of this tool (welfare assessment protocol) it is possible to educate and evaluate farms and farmers in the whole Balkan region
Future actions by RAWC:
- To evaluate current status of small scale farms in the region – we have the tool to get an idea where do we stand on animal welfare on small scale farms;
- To educate farmers why is welfare important and is there any profit in welfare (with help from the farmers);
To develop/organize education for small scale farmers on how to get to the available EU funds in the frame of CAP and cohesion policy and funds for the protection of environment, biodiversity, natural and cultural heritage – it could be possible to provide the series of this educations (road show workshops). Before beginning with an assessment of small scale farms, organize education: “Farmers to farmers”.