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6 Engagement of Public Sector Institutions

During the period of implementation of the F&B Programme the relationship between governmental institutions and F&B farmers has not changed remarkably.

The central and local governments in Serbia were given a key role in the original implementation design of the F&B Programme. It was hoped that this could develop the level of relationships and interactions between the F&B farmers and the governmental institutions.

The survey data clearly show that the linkages between governmental institutions and

F&B farmers did not improve remarkably during the period from 2012 to 2015. The farmer FGDs confirmed a large mistrust to the government, something that has been build up over a long term and seems to be the result of a neglecting of the south of Serbia for many years by the GoS. The farmer FGDs also underlined that the level and quality of the public extension services is very low and that only limited improvements have taken place during the period from 2012 to 2015, despite strong initial efforts by the F&B Programme to train public extension officers.

Table 17: Relations between F&B farmers and governmental institutions (%)
  Links with government
institutions
Access to technical
assistance
Got “much better” or “better” 7 20
Stayed the same 90 78
“Worsened” or “worsened a lot” 3 2

Source: Survey data collected by the evaluation team

After a very difficult start of cooperation with the MoA, the ministry has gradually become more responsive and involved in the discussions of F&B Programme implementation, mainly through its chairing role in the Steering Committee. For the Directorate for Agrarian Payment the process of handling the grant scheme has been a very important learning and preparation for IPARD grant management.

The difficulties by the F&B Programme to encourage organisation among the smaller F&B farmers (see Section 5.3) is partly a consequence of the GoS not being stimulating the conditions for better organisation of the farmers in the country. As an example, a new national law on cooperatives has for several years waited for codification. At the same time, small and newly started farming units will not become eligible for the IPARD grant scheme (expected to be launched in 2017). In this way the GoS is not enabling the conditions for the small F&B producers to enter the market.

The local municipalities and the local extension services never got the supporting role in the F&B Programme they were expected to play. This created a gap in the planned support to the farmers for accessing the grant scheme.

Forced by the circumstances, the F&B Programme instead decided to hire in a team of local consultants to play the extension role towards the F&B farmers. The work of these local consultants has undoubtedly been important to reach and support a large number of small F&B farmers through the programme. On the other hand, the sustainability of this model is doubtful.

The farmer FGDs revealed that farmers first seek advice from each other, or from friends and relatives with an agricultural background. Participants also seek for advisory services from agricultural engineers in agricultural input shops and distributors of the pesticides for agriculture, but the most common opinion is that these places are mostly driven by increase of sales and profits and usually do not give honest advice.

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This page forms part of the publication "Evaluation of Danida Support to Value Chain Development – Serbia Country Study" as chapter 6 of 8.
Version no. 1.0, 2016-07-05
Publication may be found at the address http://www.netpublikationer.dk/um/evaluation_value_chain_development_serbia/index.html