Modernization of agricultural production, introduction of innovations, creation of jobs, better sales of agricultural and food products, and improved hygiene and food safety are just some of the advantages of “urban markets” that were opened on 23 November in Banja Luka by Ambassador Johann Sattler, Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and the EU Special Representative in BiH.
Thanks to the EU4AGRI Project, Banja Luka got five new “urban markets” or sales points for local agricultural and food products. They were opened together with the Banja Luka Mayor Draško Stanivuković and the acting UNDP Resident Representative in BiH, Sylvain Merlen, in the presence of many beneficiaries of the EU4Agri Project and citizens.
“Agriculture has a very important connotation in the European Union. Since 2020, we have started investing again on a larger scale in agriculture in BiH, mostly through the famous EU4AGRI project. The latest part of this project are the urban markets here in Banja Luka. I am very glad that Banja Luka, alongside other towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is part of this project,” said Ambassador Sattler.
Ten mobile food sales points are being set up in Banja Luka at five locations: Lazarevo, Nova Varoš, Borik, Obilićevo and Starčevica. These are equipped with modern cooling devices, shelves and sinks with water canisters. Five semi-underground containers were also installed, and 38 users completed sanitary training and received sanitary certificates, which further raises the standards of hygiene and food safety. This concept of market reconstruction not only encourages the sale of local agricultural and food products and improves working conditions, but also promotes sustainable development practices, and was done with the aim of improving the access of Banja Luka residents to domestic products.
“This Project is extraordinary for multiple reasons. It enables local producers from rural areas to place their healthy produce directly to the market. Our plan is to expand the initiative and continue expanding the market. We spoke with Ambassador Sattler and this is just the beginning of our journey towards further development and support for local producers. Our goal is to establish a city that reflects European standards in all aspects of life, improving the quality of life for its citizens. Thanks to EU support, we are working to implement the vision of Banja Luka as an open, inclusive and prosperous city, where diversity is valued and every individual can have a place in this journey towards progress for all“, said Stanivukovic.
The establishment of mobile sales points in Banja Luka is part of the European Union’s support for the competitiveness of agriculture and rural development in BiH and is one in a series of events called “EU4AGRI develops market infrastructure: Together for a more beautiful city!”. For the establishment of mobile sales points in Banja Luka, the European Union allocated more than 200,000 KM in grants. Through EU4AGRI, 153 investments of BiH farmers and companies worth more than 18 million euros have already been supported, of which the EU financed 11 million euros, and the remaining part was co-financed by the beneficiaries.
“Although I come from France, I believe I am in extremely good hands when it comes to culinary art in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I am sincerely grateful for that. The Project, implemented by the UNDP, supported of the European Union and the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, represents key support. The EU contribution plays a crucial role in shaping the long-term vision within the EU4AGRI Project, enabling us to provide solutions and plan activities that best cater to the needs of our agricultural producers and communities.“ said Merlen.
The implementation of the EU4AGRI project will improve the sale of agricultural and food products as well as the quality of hygiene and food safety by creating better conditions for selected agricultural producers who will sell their products at equipped sales stands. Grants were provided for the improvement of infrastructure in 12 local communities in BiH: Mrkonjić Grad, Bosanski Petrovac, Banja Luka, Gračanica, Trebinje, Bihać, Zenica, Mostar, Rudo, Gradiška, Teslić and Šamac.
“I have a three hectare planatation for now. It is not too big, but it is a lot for organic production. We are working to expand. I want to encourage all producers to engage in organic production. It’s not very difficult, and it is the best. I want to thank the European Union for this Project. We, the agricultural producers, will try to justify it and make even more progress,” said Biljana Keserović, beneficiary of the EU4AGRI project.
The EU4AGRI project is a four-year initiative of the European Union (lasting from 2020 to 2024) worth 20.25 million KM. The aim of the project is to modernize the agricultural and food sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project is financed by the European Union with 20 million euros, and is jointly implemented and co-financed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in BiH and the Czech Development Agency.