The Voćar company from Brčko was founded over 30 years ago. In the Bosnian language, the company name means “fruit grower”, and the seeds of the company were sown by Avdo Musić many decades ago. He was one of the biggest plum producers in the region and sold plums and prunes in local markets. In 1989, when socialist Yugoslavia started to liberalise economically, and citizens were allowed to open private companies, his son Meho decided to take the business to the next level and officially registered and opened the Voćar company. Voćar now produces a wide range of snack products, from wafers and cookies to popcorn and peanut butter. The company’s slogan is “For a better taste of life!”.
The company is now run by Avdo’s grandson, Esed Musić. Esed explains that the journey from growing plums to producing snacks was a challenging one. During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the family lost almost everything, as many other families did, and when the war ended, they had to start almost from scratch. It was when they were starting up again that they thought they could try expanding the range of their products. “At that time there was almost no production in Bosnia and Herzegovina: everything was coming from abroad. Suddenly, there was a big market, and we decided to use this opportunity and focus on substituting imported products,” says Esed.
Having started with five workers after the war, Voćar now has 60 full-time workers and many outside collaborators who benefit from cooperation with the company. After 30 years, the company produces more than 100 different products offered to clients in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also to the United States, Australia, countries of the European Union, and others.
However, the pandemic had an impact on the operations of the company as on the global economy. Esed says that during the crisis they started to think about how they could seriously cut expenses so they could remain profitable. The first expense that he thought about was their energy bill, but any investment was expensive and it seemed impractical to try and invest in such a thing at such a time.
Nevertheless, in 2021, with the help of the EU-funded EU4AGRI project, a long-held dream came true for the Voćar company, as they were able to invest in a solar panel system that enabled them to meet about 65% of their total electricity needs. “Installing a solar panel system on our own would have been a huge financial burden for us. The support of the European Union was indeed essential: it gave us the wind to our backs to continue planning our work and development in the long run,” says Esed.
“Solar panels were placed on the roof surfaces of our production and storage facilities, which were ideal in terms of location and the shape of the roofs” explains Esed. “Our solar power plant occupies 1000 square meters and produces 150 KW of electricity, which will have a great impact on our energy independence.” The costs of building a solar power plant were about €83,000, of which about €54,000 was provided through the EU4AGRI project and some €29,000 from Voćar.
The added value of this project is the reduction of the company’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by approximately 76%, thus reducing its negative environmental impact. As Esed says, “Our products are made with the help of green energy and we are very proud”.
The results so far have been an incentive for Voćar to meet their electricity needs exclusively from renewables in the coming period. Esed explains, “We have more available roof surfaces that meet the requirements for the installation of a solar power plant and we want to achieve 100% energy independence. In this way, we would further contribute to environmental protection”.
About the project
The EU4AGRI project is a four-year initiative (2020-2024) aimed at modernising the agri-food sector, creating new jobs, as well as retaining existing ones and supporting recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The total value of the project, funded by the European Union, is €20.25 million, and it is jointly implemented and co-financed by the Czech Development Agency and the United Nations Development Programme in BiH.
The EU4AGRI project has so far supported BiH farmers and enterprises with 45 investments worth nearly €5.5 million, of which over €3.2 million was financed by the European Union.
Photo credits: EU4 AGRI
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