IBCM Conference 2014 – AGRIBUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES UNLIMITED?
Agribusiness and agriculture are crucial sectors for economic development and job creation in the Mitrovica Region. Globally, agriculture and agribusiness value chains develop rapidly. International markets liberalise, customer behavior changes and new markets such as bio-energy and bio- fuels emerge.
Aiming to perceive challenges and problems farmers and business people are facing in northern Kosovo, IBCM has organized the Mitrovica Innovations Conference 2014, AGRIBUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES UNLIMITED? Beside local governments, representatives of the private sector, educational institutions, and farmers, the Conference was attended by representatives of international institutions such as Jim Thaler Managing Director of Talier Trading Group Inc. USA, Sten-Rune Lundin Deputy Director of the Office of Rural Development in Sweden, Nenad Mikulic, Procurator, Eko Invest, Croatia and Igor Mishevski, Owner/Creative Director, Nova Solutions, Macedonia.
The conference consisted of two moderated panel sessions and three parallel round tables with opportunity for an open discussion by all of the present stakeholders.
At the panel: Mitrovica Region and Beyond, CEFTA and International Agribusiness Potentials and Challenges stakeholders discussed the constraints of domestic market size as the key driver for internationalisation activities in the food industry. The private sector should organize and corporate with government in order to be able to increase productivity and to achieve high quality standards, necessary to become competitive in the global market. Key barrier for cross-border and international business, as well as business in general, is the current political situation in Kosovo, especially in Mitrovica.
As the awareness of the impact food quality and origin have on human health is rising in the modern world, the interest for healthy food from different parts of the world is increasing as well. Main obstacle for food production in Mitrovica region is soil pollution. That is the reason why the only option for agricultural products would be industrial plants.
Food and tourism are increasingly connected, since the brand of a region also adds value to the food products from this region. Regional marketing activities to build up and improve brand and reputation are increasingly important.
At the panel dedicated to fundraising and investment, regional experience related to fundraising and investment was exchanged. Only 50% of the available funds were used in Croatia in the pre-accession period because beneficiaries were not prepared properly for the upcoming available funds.
Case study on how donor’s support triggered company’s growth was elaborated. Kom Lesak company is an example of a committed management which acquired support from foreign donors and thus expanded its operations and market.
Three parallel round tables gave opportunity for an open discussion regarding the International Agribusiness Potentials and Challenges, Fundraising and investment and Bio-energy.
Recommendations for donors: Work closely with the private and public sector in setting-up the grant schemes; Stronger support for development of agribusiness incubators; Funding in infrastructure development.
Recommendations for the educational institution: Ensure high quality labour; Educate students to gain practical skills in how to develop a business that can access markets in a global environment; Increase awareness of the population on bio-energy; Introduce bio-energy as part of the study programmes.
Recommendations for the private sector: Form cooperatives and clusters; Better farm organization, invest in bio-energy production as a source for competitive advantage and social responsibility; Strengthen links in the supply chains.
Recommendations for the public sector: Investment in infrastructure; Closer cooperation with the private sector; Build up brand of the region.