One of the Serbian government’s priorities is to secure the development of rural areas and agriculture as the basic activity of the rural population, Agriculture and Trade Minister Dušan Petrović said, opening an international conference of support of development of West Balkan rural economies. With a new set of measures, the government will support the existence of population in the country, by opening new jobs and granting subsidies to agricultural workers. More from Jelena Milenković.
In the next three years, rural development will occupy a dominant position in the government’s economic policy, said Petrović, specifying that the government will do everything in its power to improve the quality of life in rural areas as soon as possible. The measures prepared by the Ministry will enable agricultural workers to use budget funds, he explained and added that it was not only the field of agricultura that is an element of rural development. The government will try to boost infrastructure and the quality of public sectors, especially eduation and health care, in rural areas, he emphasized.
Rural areas cover 85% of Serbia’s territory and are populated by 55% of the entire population, who realize some 40% of the gross social product, said Petrović. The population density in those areas is 63 people per square kilometer and is by one third lower than the national average, while as many as 130 of the 165 local self-rules are rural municipalities with less than 150 people per square kilometer.
This international conference is endorsed by the EU and is aimed at connecting countries in the region in cooperation on joint projects that can contribute to rural development, said Petrović. The European Commission has financed the realization of a cross-border cooperation project, which related to the Drina – Tara river region. Petrović points to the symbolic significance of the project, as it supplies local self-rules and the NGO sector in Serbia, Montenegro and BIH to find common subjects and projects with a view to improvement of living conditions. This proves that it is important for Serbia and other countries in the region to become EU member-states as soon as possible, as that will contribute to a more intensive development and resolve many structural issues. The pilot project realized in the territory of countries in the flows of the Drina and Tara rivers has been supported by the European Commission and the Working Group for the Regional Rural Development of Southeastern Europe. The project included 14 municipalities from Serbia, Montenegro and BIH.