Shopska salad Agromedia

Photo: Budimir Budo Novović

After the calm of the “on-duty” raspberry growers, I could not imagine, or even dream, that tomato growers would come to their “barricades”. And those from the metropolis of this vegetable, that is, the Jablanica district whose center is in Leskovac.

For more than three weeks, they have been expressing dissatisfaction due to low purchase prices by first throwing ripe fruits in containers and then realizing that there are also those citizens who will be immensely grateful for every kilogram donated to them.

The quantities distributed free of charge are estimated at more than five tons, so that this revolt of Leskovac returnees will be remembered precisely for its humanity. Others in similar situations “preferred” to block roads and railways.

Problem “imported” ?!

The revolt, and ecologists would say: the “uprising” of Leskovac vegetable growers was provoked by unexpectedly low purchase prices that started from 10 and then increased to 25 and 35 dinars per kilogram of the largest quantities of this vegetable under the label “second” class. The stated prices could not cover the production costs either, which brought the returnees there, as they claim, one step away from bankruptcy.

Although insane, the shrewd vegetable growers from Leskovac have shown that they know how to “manage” the crisis even in the most difficult situations. They didn’t lose their heads. Namely, as part of the Association of Farmers “Jablanica”, they formed a “crisis headquarters” for this extraordinary occasion. In addition, they demonstrated unity while their demands hit directly into the center of the target.

As the main culprit for the price shock, they stated the import of a larger quantity of tomatoes just when the domestic harvest began. Although they did not have precise data on quantities and other details, there were imports. The Ministry of Agriculture agreed with that, but with the remark that according to the customs data, less than 2,500 tons were imported this year compared to last year.

This kind of statistic looks like a woman in a bikini. A lot can be seen on it, but not the most important thing. After all, statistics serve for that kind of shading of reality. What is an exact fact is that in Serbia, close to 15,000 agricultural farms are engaged in the production of tomatoes, that is, that over 50,000 people directly and indirectly depend on this vegetable culture.

The state does not set prices

Speaking a few days ago on one of the televisions with a national frequency, the Minister of Agriculture, Branislav Nedimović, stated several reasons that influenced the poor placement and low purchase prices of tomatoes. Next, at the end of May and the beginning of June, due to the weather conditions accompanied by high temperatures, large quantities of this vegetable ripened at the same time.

Practically, the supply far exceeded the demand. At the same time, the delay in exports, due to the pandemic and the slow opening of tourist seasons, in the traditional markets: Montenegro, Croatia, BiH and Greece, also created a problem.

His predictions are that the situation with this vegetable culture will soon be normalized and that unpleasant episodes will quickly replace the more favorable ones. He did not fail to say, that is, remind, not only the producers of tomatoes, that this is not “Tito’s time” and that the state does not determine the prices of any agricultural product, but the market.

He emphasized that the state significantly helps this sector of agriculture, and that in the next period it expects more intensive investments in the improvement of production, processing, selection, packaging and marketing. He did not comment in detail on the key request of the rebel growers to ban the import of tomatoes from next year in the period from May 1 to November 30.

Shopska salad of the best tomatoes

Even if he wanted to, he would be “caught” in a labyrinth of market principles and behavior where the so-called economic patriotism, protectionism and all kinds of customs “ramps” are not anyone’s favorite moves in protecting their own production. Despite the fact that many of these principles do not adhere to the path to success, it opens: quality, good business assessment, successful management and adaptation to all forms of crisis, and especially, to the challenges that come with climate change.

Shoppers will make Shopska salad from the best, tastiest and tomatoes with the best price. If it is from Leskovac, we will all be glad! But, if someone produced a better one, they should ask themselves where they failed !? It is a philosophy of approach to consumers and not some other prosaic story, regardless of the fact that many importers are big pests when it comes to domestic agriculture.

After all, two years ago, because there are no other statistics, they imported tomatoes for 14.5 million euros, while in the same period, these vegetables were exported for 4.6 million euros. However, the logical question is whether so many tomatoes would be imported if there were no buyers?

They know how to negotiate

Although we are in the pre-election year, when promises and other benefits are shared with a fist and a hat, that did not confuse the returnees. It is surprising that they reported in the negotiations, so after the courteous reception of the team of the Ministry of Agriculture, they categorically asked to sit on the “cannabis” of the crates with the line minister Nedimović.

Although in the meantime they exchanged, through the media, almost all the views and ideas they have, the only thing left is to hear something that was in some kind of secret? Is there a lot of tickling for the resulting “course” of the magic wand? Personally, I think it will be a satisfaction of form in style: come, let me tell you!

At the heart of the negotiations are a number of demands, several of which are extremely specific. An example is the declaration of tomatoes as a strategic agricultural crop. If one of the producers, at least in Tito’s time, received an order or a similar state decoration, then, perhaps, it would make sense to break his head.

I remind you that something like that did not work for the producers of plums, raspberries, apples…

The president is also in the “package”

Above all, tomato producers, in addition to compensation for lost profits, export security and a five-month ban in each year of import, are asking President Aleksandar Vučić to host him at the August “Paradise Fest” in Lebane, noting that only from him as a good hosts expect full understanding of their problems. Without the intention of being a skeptic, will that “film” not be watched at the mentioned festival? At best, “soon” is coming. I would love to be wrong!

In any case, this case with Leskovac vegetable growers, I am convinced, will not enter the “catalog” of the decline of domestic farmers. Due to the fact that agriculture is a living organism, surprises, even unpleasant ones, have become an inseparable part of it. The worst of all situations is the one: that their head hurts equally from a good family, but also when the year fails. There is still no cure or vaccine for this diagnosis.

That is why it is not rude to say: that there are still many pickers of “green” watermelon in the waiting list in order to express dissatisfaction, among domestic farmers. As for the producers: “angels”, “hurricanes”, “cauldrons”, “ox-hearts”, “crowns”, “rockers”, “cherries” and other varieties of tomatoes, they will quickly sit in their saddle. Fortunately for many Shopska salad fans!


Source: Agromedia by www.agromedia.rs.

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