IW Learn DEF
The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe



Press Release

Serbian Farmers Participate in United Nations Pilot Project for Reducing Danube Pollution
13 July 2006, Vienna, Austria

Farmers in rural Vojvodina, Serbia, are being successfully trained by the United Nations to reduce pollution in demonstration projects aimed at helping farmers in seven Danube River Basin countries.

All eight demonstration farms have livestock production including pigs, cows and chickens, and crop production such as maize, sunflower and barley. Bad farming practices are a main source of nutrient and toxic pollution seeping into local water bodies that lead to the Danube and Black Sea. Bad practices include the poor storage of manure and slurry (liquids with high solid concentrations) from livestock, manure and slurry distribution onto farm fields, the poor protection of chemical storage facilities and faulty application of pesticides.

The Vojvodina farms are representative of farming practices in Serbia and six other Danube countries participating in the project where agriculture is both a key economic sector and pollution source. The other countries are Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.

To help reduce pollution, the project, financed by the United Nations Development Programme-Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) Danube Regional Project (DRP) and implemented by Danish company Carl Bro, is training farmers in applying best agricultural practices (BAPs). To date, project successes include the training of farmers and farming advisory services in fertilizer planning, and designing and constructing manure storage and slurry tanks.

The project is trying to raise finances from the state and private sectors, to construct manure stores and slurry tanks and purchase equipment. A campaign has informed local and national Serbian media at seminars and demonstration sites. Recently, farmers and journalists were flown to an international farming fair in Denmark to learn about the latest advances in BAPs.

Besides providing environmental advantages, farmers also benefit economically from BAPs through reduced expenditures on fertilizers and pesticides, more cost-effective farming practices and the improved quality of their products.

Project partner organizations in each of the seven countries have developed national plans for disseminating results and transferring know-how from the Vojvodina farms to farmers, farming advisory services and local authorities through trainings, publications and media relations.

"More such projects are needed to increase the understanding, and support the application, of BAPs in the Danube countries," said Slobodan Milosevic, Project Team Leader.

Pollution problems

Nutrients and pesticides threaten human health and the environment. For example, nitrates, a type of nutrient, have been linked to infant poisoning. Most Danube countries appear to be at high risk of groundwater pollution from nutrients, on which 48 million people in the Danube Basin depend for drinking water. Danube countries risk failing to meet European Union water protection legislation by 2015, especially as nutrient and pesticide levels could rise with more intensive farming in the future. Danube pollution has also played a role in creating a severe ecological imbalance in the Black Sea - many wild species have been impacted.

For further information, contact:

Paul Csagoly, Communication Specialist UNDP-GEF DRP, paul.csagoly@unvienna.org ,
tel +43 1 26060 4722, mob +43 664 561 2192 , www.undp-drp.org

Slobodan Milosevic, Local Team Leader, UNDP-GEF DRP Agriculture Project
Resavska 35, 10000 Belgrade, Serbia 
tel +381 11 32 32 322, mob +381 63 245 865