At the sitting held on 8 September, the members of the Subcommittee for Monitoring the Agricultural Situation in the Marginal - Most Undeveloped Areas in the Republic of Serbia discussed the status and prospects of young people in rural areas.
Subcommittee Chairman Milija Miletic said that the south-east of Serbia with its 65+ population average is the most vulnerable area. He added that the return of young farmers into rural areas is the biggest chance for the least developed parts of Serbia and commended the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management to, through the use of IPARD donations – non-refundable EU funds, enable young agricultural producers, 18 – 40 years of age, to apply for the funds to launch their own businesses and improve the quality of village life.
He added that what makes life in the villages also hard is bad infrastructure, lacking water supply and sewer networks. Miletic suggested rehabilitating institutions such as closed schools, putting them into the hands of local self-governments who would in turn allocate them to young entrepreneurs to use to launch their own business.
Velimir Stanojevic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, said that emigration is one of the villages’ chief problems, adding that huge sections of the population tend to leave rural areas every year. He agreed with the Subcommittee Chairman that disused facilities should be given to young entrepreneurs to launch their businesses and that infrastructure should be improved.
Stanojevic said that, this year, the Ministry had secured budgetary funds for young farmers to motivate young people to take up agriculture.
Assistant Minister Zoran Janjatovic talked to the Subcommittee about the IPARD funds – 15 million EUR allocated for the development of agricultural production in rural areas. He said that these funds need to be realized by the end of the year and appealed to the MPs to urge the local self-governments to send a strong message to the agricultural producers to realize their projects in line with the IPARD rulebook.
Having discussed the problems of young people in rural areas, the Subcommittee proposed and adopted the following conclusions:
- The funds allocated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management as assistance for young people below 40 years of age should be higher for mountainous regions.
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and the Republic Property Directorate, should enable villages with disused facilities to relinquish these through a local self-government programme to young agricultural producers for use.
The sitting was chaired by Subcommittee Chairman Milija Miletic, and attended by Subcommittee members and deputy members Dalibor Radicevic and Zarko Bogatinovic. The sitting was also attended by MP Prof. Dr Ljubisa Stojmirovic.