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In the village of Drezga near Podgorica, the Martic family runs a dairy company with the same name. Seven years ago, they started processing milk with a modest 150 liters per day. Thanks to the financial support of the European Union and the state, they have grown into a dairy firm that processes up to three tons of milk a day, and produces cheese, kaymak, yogurt and other dairy products.
The Drezga Dairy is one of 14 beneficiaries of the IPARD-like agricultural development support programme in Montenegro worth €12 million. So far, the Martic family has used about €400,000 from this programme, half of which does not have to be repaid.
Vladimir Martic, who runs this family firm, says that there is a great interest in their products. Thanks to the support they have received, they can now meet the demand.
“This is the real thing. Before the IPARD-like programme started, we were constantly having problems with purchase lines, and we lacked vehicles and refrigerators. By participating in the IPARD-like programme, we have solved all of these problems, and I would recommend it to all entrepreneurs to apply,” says Martic.
The Ambassador of the European Union to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, and the Minister of Agriculture, Milutin Simović recently visited the Drezga Dairy and 11 other companies – beneficiaries of the IPARD-like programme in Podgorica, Golubovci and Tuzi.
During the two-day visit, the officials visited the "ETC" meat processing company in Tuzi, the “Radinović Company" in Donji Kokoti, the “Branko Vlahović” company in Farmaci the fish processing company "ASK" in Golubovci, the “Union Alimenti” milk processing company in Omerbožovići, the fruit and vegetable processing company "Natural fruit" in Rogami, the wineries "Vučinić" in Rogami and "Rajković" in Ubli, a plant for processing fruit, vegetables, medicinal herbs and mushrooms "Agrovita-Eco" in Stari Aerodrom, a plant for processing aromatic and medicinal herbs "Agrolife Montenegro" in Tuzi, and Zoran Vukčević’s winery in Barutana.
During the visit, Ambassador Orav felt assured that the funds were well spent, and thanks to that, as he pointed out, life in rural areas in Montenegro now has a future.
"I am impressed with the concrete results gained through the assistance of the EU. I am convinced that farmers' entrepreneurship improves the everyday life of Montenegrin citizens - in terms of increasing production, but also meeting high standards of processing, job creation, and contribution to the economic development of Montenegro," said Ambassador Orav after visiting the farmers.
The Minister, Milutin Simović, is pleased to see the obvious progress of the Montenegrin agriculture. The reasons for that are based on the generous support from the EU and the country , as well as on the valuable work of domestic entrepreneurs who have turned small family farms into companies that meet EU standards.
Simović showed the progress the Montenegrin agriculture is making by explaining that, prior to the IPARD-like support, 14 companies had 59 employees and, directly related to them, 2,058 subcontractors. Thanks to the financial support, 21 new jobs were opened and the cooperative network expanded.
"These breakthroughs have contributed to the improvement of competitiveness, which is very important for the sustainability of many jobs, and they guarantee that new positions will be opened in the agriculture sector," Simovic said.
The IPARD-like project was also an opportunity for manufacturers and administrations to become more informed and educated on how to use the available funds. This was a preparation for the so-called large IPARD programme (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance for Rural Development), which began in February of this year. Thanks to the large IPARD programme, an additional €80 million will be invested in the Montenegrin agriculture. The European Union has provided €39 million, the Montenegrin Government €12 million, and the farmers themselves €36 million.