Raspberry is a product by which the world recognizes us, and for decades Serbia has been considered one of the world’s largest producers of this fruit, of a specific quality.
Although the volume of raspberry production is not in the group of fruit species that are most represented in our country, it is still one of the most important fruit species in terms of the value of total exports. Then, with good reason, the question arises: why every year raspberries are afraid of what they will have and what price their crop will achieve on the market.
According to prof. Dr. Nenad Magazin, head of the Department of Fruit Growing and Viticulture at the Faculty of Agriculture in Novi Sad, has several reasons for this situation. In the previous period, the state neglected raspberries. Unfortunately, our producers, as well as other participants in the production chain, often think in the short term, without any long-term strategy, and do not improve this production.
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– The problem is that the orchards are mostly old. The exact areas under raspberries are not known, and production varies from year to year. The average production volume decreased from 80,000 to 60,000 tons. In order to improve this condition, it is necessary to work on the production of quality planting material. Although it has been warned for years, the appeal has never borne fruit. Also, our raspberries are mostly relied on the variety Vilamet, which is best suited to the climate in Serbia, and partly on Miker. That is not enough for a picky world market. New varieties should be introduced into production, but also the existing ones should be kept – explains prof. Dr. Magazine.
And the price determines the volume of production. It is easy in the years when raspberries have a high purchase price. Then there is no reason to worry. Of course, the concern is greater when the price is lower. It happened that due to the extremely low price and unprofitability, many raspberries gave up this production and reoriented to the production of more profitable fruit species. This year’s price is still unknown. We have no stocks, the refrigerators are empty, and there is a great demand for this fruit in the world.
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Uncertainty is present among raspberries. Božo Joković, director of the cooperative “Agro eco fruit” from Arilje, reminds that the year is difficult for fruit growers. If the weather conditions allow, raspberry harvest is expected in a month. Vegetation is late, and raspberries still hope that they will be able to get the maximum yield that can be brought out in a year like this. It should be borne in mind that the plantations have not been restored, they are mostly old. There are few young people left in the village who would take a job, which affects production.
– For years, raspberry producers have been accompanied by a poor purchase price, as well as disagreements between producers and refrigerators. Last year’s purchase price ranged from 200 to 250 dinars, but when there is a big difference – it’s not good. It is already speculated that this year’s purchase price will be high, but those are just assumptions. Also, the claim that in some regions the entire production has been agreed in advance is unfounded – says Joković.
The purchase price is still unknown to the refrigerators. Mirjana Nikolić, sales director of ITN “Eko Povlen” in Kosjerić, says that they have not yet formed a purchase price, but it will be in line with market demands. This refrigerator annually exports 11,000 tons of frozen fruit, of which 80 percent is placed in small packages on the European market through supermarket chains. They buy raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and cherries from their local subcontractors. There are a total of 500 of them, and the cooperation takes place on the basis of a contract made at the beginning of the year.
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Prof. Dr. Magazin warns that when setting the price, it should be borne in mind that too high prices affect end customers, so that they slowly begin to give up buying raspberries and switch to other frozen berries, which is not good.
In order to depreciate this cycle, it is necessary to improve the production of raspberries from the point of view of increasing the yield, but also reducing the production costs. Yield increase is possible with the application of full agrotechnics in orchards raised with planting material of dubious origin, as well as in those in inadequate area but also in older orchards. On the other hand, we still cannot reduce production costs as developed countries, where raspberries are harvested by machine. In our country, the harvest is manual, which further increases the cost of production. But hand-picked fruits are of the first quality, appreciated and sought after on the market.
– Our little ones are mostly on inaccessible terrains. The production of raspberries in western Serbia mostly takes place on small farms, on terrains that are on a slope, where the use of mechanization is not possible – reminds prof. Dr. Magazine.
Dobrivoje Radović, the president of the Association of Raspberries of Serbia, says that it has been difficult to find pickers for years. The situation has not changed this year either, so the raspberries will mostly be picked by family members, which will not be difficult for them because a high yield is not expected.
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Top yields are not expected this year, but they should not be bad either. The reason for that, in part, is certainly the weather (un) conditions. Warm weather in February, then cold March, April and May, and there was snow when there was no weather. A good part of the plantations cannot achieve high yields because they are old. Many of them were neglected in previous years, some were returned to production, but they do not achieve full fertility.
– This year is special because the raspberries have applied full agricultural techniques and complete protection, and that still does not guarantee a high yield. Although the little ones are in good condition, if a storm occurs, as recently in the area of Ljig and Milanovac, all the work and effort goes away in a short time, and most of the plantations are not insured – Radović points out.
Prof. Dr. Nenad Magazin emphasizes that, without the strategic investment of the state in this sector of agriculture, it is difficult to make progress in raspberry growing. And while we stagnate, other countries will occupy increasingly important market positions. There are problems, but a comprehensive approach of all relevant factors in the chain of production-trade and processing of raspberries is necessary, so that everyone can agree and continue with one successful production, and raspberries will be able to return it.
Source: Bolja Zemlja by www.boljazemlja.com.
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