On 21 April 2017, “Farm Product Marketing” forum was held at the Croatian Chamber of Economy in Split. It was organised by the Croatian Agricultural Agency’s project team within the framework of implementation of the GRASS Croatia Growth of Rural Areas and Agriculture for Successful Society EU project co-financed by the European Commission. The forum aims to raise awareness of the Croatian public concerning demographic trends in rural areas of the Republic of Croatia, importance and significance of those trends for present-day and future lives and sustainability of rural areas through incentives for employment of young people in agriculture.
The forum was opened by the deputy director dipl. ing. Robert Bakota, who greeted present members of the media and introduced them with the GRASS Croatia EU project and announced lecturers on the topic of farm product marketing.
Doc. dr. sc. Josip Gugić, vice-president of the Croatian Agroeconomical Society, provided an overview of the situation and opportunities for development of agriculture in the Split-Dalmatia County. Agriculture of Split-Dalmatia County is markedly heterogeneous in terms of its production capacity and degree of development. Development of agriculture on the territory of the county should be considered in the context of all activities and based on resources and tradition of the region. Opportunities for development of agriculture in the territory of the Split-Dalmatia County are based on existence of sufficient natural, production and entrepreneurship potential for positioning of agriculture as a significant resource for economic development. Strategic development activities should be directed for maximum utilisation of existing sufficient natural, production and enterprising potential with intensification of marketing activities in order to create preconditions for development of competitive and sustainable agriculture and establish appropriate business and market infrastructure to respond to future mid-term institutional and market demands.
Dr. sc. Marin Čagalj from the Institute for Adriatic Crops and Karst Reclamation pointed out that significance of family farms is reflected in preservation of diversity of agriculture, plants and livestock as well as sustainability of natural resources, preservation of rural areas and retention of rural population in the countryside, reinforcing local and national economies, development and transfer of knowledge in agricultural activities, preservation of local traditions and identities as well as a beneficial impact on overall safety of food. According to all presented information, it is indisputable that family farms in Croatia are characterise by a low degree of organisation, lack of their involvement in organisational forms and other types of cooperation directly affecting their competitiveness and poor market position. In order to become competitive at the EU market, it is necessary to reinforce agricultural production specifically at the family farms, apply safe and sustainable agricultural production in a combination of knowledge an experience of peasants an experts, emphasise the need for stronger ties between farmers and consumers, establish new markets an new values – especially at the local and national levels. In addition to the lecture on the topic of “Agro-economic properties of development of family farms”, dr. sc. Marin Čagalj held a lecture on the topic of “Marketing of agricultural products with an added value”. Even though it is an indispensable and exceptionally important factor of successful business on a modern market, unfortunately marketing is still an unfamiliar term to most farmers in the Republic of Croatia. Since marketing starts and ends with the market, it is necessary to assess sale opportunities, become familiar with market demands of the consumers and possible competition before one enters the market. The added value of agricultural products and food refers to a higher degree of processing or at least improvement (e.g. transition fro conventional to organic or integrated farming, processing of pomegranate to produce pomegranate juice, introduction of innovations etc.). Considering troubling information about family farm production and sales in the Republic of Croatia, it is necessary to produce high-quality products with additional value in order to make the family farms competitive and economically viable, educate farmers about marketing and its importance, removal of products and/or services which do not satisfy requirements and needs of the market from the range of products and/or services, change existing non-competitive products and introduce innovative products and production processes.
The final lecturer at the forum was dr. sc. Neven Šerić, professor at the Faculty of Economy of the University of Split who used practical examples to explain working of direct sales, indirect sales, fairs and planning of marketing for family farms.
On Saturday 22 April 2017, the City Farm was held as an activity within the framework of the informational campaign concerning the Common Agricultural Policy performed by the Croatian Agricultural Agency within the framework of the GRASS Croatia EU project co-financed by the European Commission.
At the City Farm, honey and cheese producers presented their produce and offered the public high-quality domestic food. The city population had an opportunity to buy domestic honey and cheese directly from the producers and ask questions regarding production of food items offered for sale. In addition to the honey and cheese producers, producers of Soparnik – a traditional dish from the area – were presented at the fair.
In addition to the market part of the event, there was an exhibition of domestic animals where breeders presented sheep, goats, calves and foals – which was especially interesting to younger visitors. Children had an opportunity to have their picture taken next to their favourite domestic animals, ride a horse and taste freshly milked donkey or goat milk. Besides the animals, there were colouring books containing countryside motifs for children entertainment.