Integrated Agricultural Development Program 1
Bosnia & Herzegovina’s markets were deeply destabilized by the decade-long war in Yugoslavia during the 1990s, and many rural families struggled to gain the credit, inputs, and services needed to put their farms back on sound footing. PfD began the Integrated Agricultural Development (IADP) program in 1998 with assistance from the USDA to put Bosnia & Herzegovina’s agricultural markets back on sure footing. PfD leveraged microfinance, technical expertise in agriculture, and the organization’s experience rebuilding local institutional capacity in post-conflict settings to achieve this objective.
PfD worked directly with local farmers’ cooperatives to create a national raspberry industry, providing ongoing assistance with fertilizer use, pesticide use, irrigation systems, and other specific topics related to the care and cultivation of raspberries to promote success for this high-value crop. Raspberries grow wild in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and were widely prized but not widely available in major population centers until the 2000s. To preserve the country’s wild raspberry stocks while promoting cultivated fruits for national consumption and export, the IADP emphasized sustainable raspberry collection and harvesting practices and the cultivation of domesticated berries. PfD used this opportunity to educate farmers on ethical wild harvesting, developing an “atlas” of medicinal and aromatic herbs and wild berries that stresses sustainable harvest practices. Endangered plants were specially marked. This atlas was distributed widely to farmers and other wild harvesters throughout the region.
To promote growth and financial viability among the farms in the IFA producers associations, PfD developed a partnership with UPI Bank to administer a line of credit specifically for IFA members. The loans enabled IFA members to expand a wide range of agricultural production activities: it enabled the purchase of machinery, grain milling equipment and animal fodder, and cows for dairy farms; it supported bee keeping and other sectors such as vegetable production, and herb and spice collection, and allowed farmers to expand their land holdings. PfD and UPI Bank later created a line of credit specifically for raspberry growers, an intiative that drew buy-in from some of Bosnia’s largest national food processors. The credit program has facilitated PfD market linkage activities, including joint purchasing and organized cultivation.
The IFA members who participated in the IADP’s credit program have been able to diversify their agriculture activities and lower their vulnerability to volatile markets, as well as to build capital and expand their businesses.