Modriča: Agriculture as a Strategic Basis for Municipality Development
Among the priorities under the Strategy for Development of this Northern Bosnia municipality is the creation of better conditions for agriculture. The Municipality of Modriča, with the support of European Union and UNDP, applied an integrated approach to the Strategy for Development. The goal is to improve public administration services and decrease administration costs, investment in infrastructure and create new jobs for the socially vulnerable people.
Gavro Bradašević has been expanding his soybean plantations for a third summer and has a guaranteed purchase of the crops grown from the seeds he received from the European Union for the first time this year. In order to help the farmers, the Municipality of Modriča established links between soybean farmers and the company which needs soybeans for oil production.
“They put us in touch with Bimal – well, it’s quite a serious company. Before we sowed soybeans, we knew that the soybeans price would be 68 pfennigs. Knowing the price, it was up to us whether or not we would sow”, said Bradašević to whom “guaranteed purchase means a lot”.
Being a famer for already 10 years, Bradašević is cultivating around 30 ha of land on which he grows soybeans, wheat and maize, and also has a pig farm. He has been growing soybeans for the past three years and this May he became one of the beneficiaries of the delivery of soybean seeds within the “Local Integrated Development” (LID) project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). New seeds helped him expand his crops. The soybean production has been increasing in Modriča over the past several years and the neighboring municipalities have an increasing number of producers. Bradašević is hoping to see new soybean producers and incentives.
“Last year, the farmers in Modriča engaged in planting strawberries and hazelnuts. EU and UNDP in cooperation with the municipality have supported soybean producers this year, says Jovan Popović, an officer for agriculture in the Municipality of Modriča local government.
Support to agricultural development and increase in employment were among the LID project activities, as part of an integrated approach to the local community development.
For this purpose, the purchase of a new machine for the footwear factory Alfa, Modriča, was co-funded. The Alfa factory is expanding its production and is expecting to employ 80 more people with the launch of a new plant. At present, it employs around 400 people. Young people from Modriča are trained and employed at the Alfa factory, regardless of their qualifications.
“My job is in a different field but I am able to do it, and I am pleased”, says nineteen-year old Tanja Marković, who is an agricultural technician by training. She has worked at Alfa since the beginning of this year. Established 30 years ago, the factory is now producing several hundred footwear models, including orthopedic shoes. Switzerland, Austria and Hungary are its major export markets, the company representatives explained.
Agriculture is the strongest industry
The mayor of Modriča, Mladen Krekić, speaking of the importance of employment for ensuring a better future for the entire society, says that investment in employment is the “most humane” thing that can be done. According to him, the new Strategy gives priority to the most developed branch of the local economy in the municipality - agriculture.
“Now also farmers understand what land means and that they will not get rich. It is the industry that needs far more support and a better approach”, he says, emphasizing that wholesale buyers and agriculture policies at higher levels of government are much needed and it is also necessary that also citizens recognize and buy domestic agricultural products.
Maize, wheat, barley, oats, cabbage, peppers, watermelon, tomato dominate the crop production in the Municipality of Modriča. There has been a rise in the number of cattle farmers over the past several years.
“We shall try to make progress in agriculture as I believe that agriculture is the only industry which has a chance to develop fully in BiH”, says Krekić and explains that it is necessary to create a better business environment for both farmers and their buyers.
A ten-year Modriča Municipality Development Strategy envisages different development policies and budgetary savings and administrative streamlining.
“Eighty eight projects and measures will be implemented in our city within a three-year period precisely thanks to the Strategy”, Krekić says.
Better public administration
An important result of the municipal strategic planning in cooperation with the LID project was the establishment of the Modriča Municipality Development Management Unit which deals with planning, evaluation of and reporting on the Strategy implementation. The Strategy also helps various municipal services, public companies and businessmen in preparing and writing project proposals.
Mario Đuran, Head of the Development Management Unit, explains that project proposals have been developed since the formation of the Unit for the municipality, private companies and individuals who wanted to start a company and also for the farmers who needed assistance in applying for various support programmes, with a view to ensuring a better public administration.
The Modriča Development Strategy focuses also on ensuring conditions for a better future of children through expansion of capacities of the city kindergarten and reconstruction of a sports hall. The construction of a safe access to the hall in which volleyball games and other sports activities of secondary school students take place was further funded through the LID project.
“It forced us to start thinking about it as a very useful building. We do not have other sports halls but that one which is used by secondary school students, recreationists and companies in Modriča, and also by sports clubs”, says Krekić and reiterates that Modriča has both women’s and men’s volleyball teams in the premier league and a volleyball facility for training purposes is extremely important for them.
Modriča was among the cities which were hit hardest by floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014, while citizens are still threatened by excessive rainfall.
“When it is raining, the rainwater runs down the hill into Modriča. When there was a disaster in 2010, nobody could leave Modriča, everything cracked and water spilled onto the floodplain”, says the mayor and adds that the city suffered great damage after the river Bosnia flooded in 2014.
The project for the construction of a rainwater sewage system in Modriča is part of the Municipality Development Strategy and it is “the most painful issue”, Krekić says, adding that a design is worth six million convertible marks which the municipality cannot afford right now. The development of the rainwater sewage system would include also the development of the central city square “Dr. Milan Jelić” and it remains a priority in the infrastructure and utility policy of the municipality. The project and technical documentation was developed and funded by UNDP, and the Municipality is planning to raise the necessary money through donations, from its own funds and loans.