Serbia is among the top producers of berry production worldwide, and its farmers rely on favourable climate conditions to keep up yields and their livelihoods. Due to climate change, the main growing areas are increasingly experiencing periods of extreme heat, prolonged droughts and severe hail rains. These developments are putting farmers’ financial security and long-term sustainability at risk.
To ensure their financial security, the production must be adapted to a climate-resilient system that mitigates the risks of crop failure and yield loss. However, the investment for such adaptation, including irrigation systems and protection nets, is in many cases too high for individual small-scale farmers.
In April 2022, Tradin Organic started a technical assistance project with our long-term partner Midi Organic in Serbia and the financial support of SECO (The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs). Together, we are developing a project that helps 50 vulnerable small-scale berry farmers in Serbia adopt climate-resilient farming systems through the implementation of drip irrigation and protection nets.
Drip irrigation entails that small hoses are placed along the raspberry row. They are attached close to the roots, and slowly, drip by drip, irrigates the raspberries. The nets provide protection against hail rain, whilst at the same time preventing the raspberries to be damaged by excessive direct sunlight.
These measures will have the following benefits:
- Doubling annual yields
- Increase product quality and product value;
- Create 50 seasonal jobs for pickers in July and August;
- Make the farmers more resilient against draughts and in control of their production;
- Increase of financial security for farmers;
We have rolled up our sleeves, and the first stage of implementation has begun! We are thrilled that the developments are already changing the lives of the farmers. These 50 small-scale Serbian farmers were the most exposed and vulnerable to harsh climate effects and have remote farms that urgently needed support.
With the goal to reach and impact as many farmers as possible, we clustered several farms together in groups. It allows for multiple farmers within a group to benefit from a single irrigation system and the improvements that come with it. We are aiming to double the yield of these farmers for the next crop.
Depending on the location of the farmers, the irrigation system is installed with either a river or well-water source. Since most of the fields are in the Kopaonik mountain range, the system must lift the water from 600-800m altitude to a maximum of 1000m altitude to be reach the fields.
Additionally, to make the impact more scalable, all the participating farmers will contribute a small share of the profit to a climate-resilient fund organized by Midi. The collected funds will be used for other interested farmers that didn't have the chance to participate in the current project.
In the second stage, the same number of farmers will implement protection nets, a measure that will prevent crop loss due to hail rain and inferior fruit quality from excessive direct sunlight.
Overall, these activities will strengthen the plants, improve the yields and reduce quality degradation. Thereby making the farmers more resilient against future climate related impact. We are excited to see how this develops, and stay tuned for updates on this project.