Milenko Nedić (47) used to be in the army. In 2005, as part of government reforms, he was declared redundant along with 3,000 other colleagues, and overnight he was jobless. When he had to decide what to do next, he remembered his parents’ background in farming – the only other work he knew about.
Milenko and his wife took out a bank loan and bought the three cows that started their small farm. The beginning was difficult because of the loans’ high interest rates and the couple’s lack of overall financial capacity. Then an opportunity emerged for Milenko and his wife to expand and stabilise their business with support from the EU’s instrument for pre-accession assistance for rural development (IPARD II). “Through IPARD programmes, I have managed to complete the farm’s mechanisation and obtain milking systems, as well as all other equipment I need for the farm. In the last call I received support of about €48,000, which I put together with my own contribution of €32,000,” says Milenko. He now has about 50 cows and one of the biggest farms in the Piva region in Montenegro.
Milenko is not the only IPARD II success story in Montenegro. So far, at least 254 farmers have used IPARD II funds, and have benefited from improvements in working conditions on farms. Gordana Dujović from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management explains that, “before the start of the implementation of the IPARD II programme, we had only two or three processing plants that met the national standards for food safety. We now have over 21 facilities that meet the standards. This fact in itself shows the positive impact that IPARD II has had in Montenegro”. According to Gordana, over 100 new jobs have been created through the IPARD II support so far, and these have mainly gone to young people.
Montenegro is currently using the funds available from the IPARD II programme, which can be used until the end of 2023, and the EU has recently adopted the IPARD III programme for Montenegro for the period 2021-2027. Gordana is confident that IPARD III will be even more successful than the previous programmes. “We are starting IPARD III with much more experience and knowledge gained through the previous implementation of calls of the IPARD II programme. We, as well as the recipients, are much more experienced, and I believe that the benefits will increase significantly. Accreditation of new measures is also planned, so it will open up possibilities for recipients to receive more support, and for Montenegro as a country to withdraw more of the EU funds available to it,” she says.
Milenko is convinced that without IPARD projects nine out of ten farmers would have to give up agriculture. According to him, not enough members of the labour force are willing to engage in farming, so the mechanisation procured through IPARD calls is an important contribution. “The farm provides us with a good life. It requires a lot of work, and most of the money earned needs to be reinvested in production again, but the farm is growing,” says Milenko.
About the programme
Part of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) designed to support reforms in countries in the process of joining the EU, the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance for Rural Development (IPARD) focuses on the agri-food sectors of those countries and rural areas. Through this tool, the EU provides beneficiaries with financial and technical help to make their agricultural sector and rural areas more sustainable, aligning them with the EU’s common agricultural policy.
Photo credits: IPARD Montenegro
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