Serbia’s agricultural infrastructure, which has suffered from severe floods and droughts in recent years, will become more resilient to climate change thanks to a €15 million investment supported by the EBRD.
The Bank will finance the construction and rehabilitation of the primary irrigation infrastructure in Negotin and Svilajnac. In addition, the EBRD will provide more than €1.2 million in grants for technical assistance, including for the development of the country’s first irrigation action plan, which will be implemented with the assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Providing 9 per cent of the country’s GDP and 17 per cent of employment, the agricultural and food-processing industry plays a vital role in the Serbian economy. However, the sector suffers from underinvestment and outdated technology, while water supply systems are often vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as droughts, floods or exceptionally harsh winters.
The EBRD investment will finance the construction of primary irrigation infrastructure, which will enable the use of efficient irrigation technology, including a switch to sprinklers and drip irrigation as well as measures to reduce the vulnerability of irrigation infrastructure to weather-related disruption.
This will contribute to an overall improvement in water efficiency and will promote the climate resilience of the agricultural sector.
Zsuzsanna Hargitai, EBRD Regional Director, Western Balkans, said: “This project is important for Serbia as it will not only strengthen the resilience of agriculture to climate change, but also provide more economic opportunities to people in less developed regions. Hundreds of households in these two regions will benefit from better access to irrigation services, allowing them to increase their expected crop yields and their income.”
Miljan Ždrale, EBRD Head of Agribusiness, South-Eastern Europe, added: “The EBRD has been supporting domestic and international food processing companies, as well as ever growing modern retail sector, which is shaping up consumer choice, preferences and overall value chains. This project is the first investment in the public agribusiness infrastructure. It is expected to enable change in crop patterns enabling farmer’s switch to high value crops such as fruits and vegetables, thus increasing overall competitiveness of the vital sector for the Serbian economy”.