In the conditions of the energy crisis and growing inflation and especially high food prices, agriculture has become an important element of national security, said business leaders from Serbia and the region, who believe that digitization and care for employees are the main resources with which to overcome these turbulent times.
– Globally, food needs are growing faster than the rate of population growth, which creates pressure to increase the productivity of the agri-food sector, but in a sustainable way while taking care of natural resources. If we add to that the current geopolitical events, it is not surprising that agriculture has become an important element of national security and that food security strategies are being formulated in the direction of self-sufficiency and reducing dependence on food imports – pointed out Mihailo Janković, general director of MK Group at the Forum of Managers organized by Srpska Association of Managers (SAM).
He pointed out that hunger at the global level has been constantly increasing since 2015, whereby in 2021 there were as many as 828 million hungry people in the world , while on the other hand, there is also the paradox that globally twice as many calories are produced per person than they need is required.
At the same time, trends in the global food industry have turned towards healthy and responsible eating, which has given rise to so-called expensive trends.
– Food has become more expensive and less available, which is contributed by the trends of healthy and organic food, veganism, focus on local producers, as well as on packaging – Janković said.
Referring to the situation in Serbian agriculture, Jovanović pointed out that although the participation of agriculture in Serbia’s GDP is a high 6 to 6.3 percent, the average growth rate of GVA is only 1.3 percent per year in the last decade.
Also, he points out, is the non-war structure of Serbian agriculture with dominant plant production (75.1%), while livestock production (22.5%) is drastically declining . Compared to 2011, the number of cattle decreased by 8.9 percent, and pigs by 14.6 percent.
Zoran Petrović: It is better to be a debtor than a creditor
Referring to the growth of inflation and thus the devaluation of money, the chairman of the Executive Board of Raiffeisen Bank, Zoran Petrović, assessed that “we are once again in times when it is better to be a debtor than a creditor”. Petrović pointed out that the biggest challenge to the business climate is inflation, because expectations for the end of the year in the euro zone are 8%, next year 6%, and stabilization is expected only in 2024.
– Expectations are that interest rates will rise, the peak of which will be in the next year – he stated with the remark that according to him, in order to overcome the inflation rate in the long term, sometimes the only solution is for the country to enter a slowdown, recession, which then leads to an increase in unemployment.
He concluded that given the available agricultural capacities, Serbia has great potential for development with the application of digitization and precision agriculture, citing comparisons with Holodia, which, although it has almost twice as much arable land as Serbia, earns 20 times more from agriculture than our country.
Emil Tedeschi, the president of the Atlantic Group, as well as Živko Mukaetov, the general manager of “Alkaloid”, emphasized that in these times of crisis, one must not forget the physical values, which are, above all, people.
– Along with natural resources, people are the only irreplaceable resource of every company , and in every crisis, the humanity and sustainability of the business system should be preserved – they said.
Dragoljub Damljanović: The price of electricity shapes the economy’s chronocurrent
Dragoljub Damljanović, president of SAM and director of the Development Center, Schneider Electric, referred to the importance of ensuring a stable supply of electricity, the price of which will increase from 2021.
– This year we faced challenges such as drought, and due to the low level of the rivers, the hydropower plants could not work as much as needed. This resulted in an increase in prices and affected companies, which found themselves in new challenges, both due to the high price of gas and the global geopolitical crisis. It is necessary for the states to provide immediately usable, stable sources of energy, so that our industry remains competitive – he said.
Dejan Turk, general manager of A1 Serbia and A1 Slovenia, also agreed with them. – Companies must not forget about their employees, because adapting to changes will be easier if your employees are with you as a strong team – he assessed and pointed out that digitization is the heart of our economic development and survival , while cyber security is also an important factor, Kurir writes.