Slavonian Family Tosses 25 Tons Of Watermelons, Blames Imports

Total Croatia News

Brankovic Cherries.jpg
Screen Grab, Facebook; Antonio Gvozdić

July 25, 2018 — A Slavonian farmer is forced to dispose of a crop which has no buyers.

A Slavonian farmer posted footage of his family dumping about 25 tons of watermelons onto a desolate field after they could not find buyers.

Antonio Gvozdić from Soljana, near Županje, posted the footage of a tractor dumping watermelons around a field as the patriotic song, “Moja Domovina” played in the background. [Check out the video below].

Video via Facebook; Antonio Gvozdić

Gvozdić said the fruit went unsold even during the height of the summer because his produce cannot compete with competition imported from “Morocco, Albania, Greece and other countries.”

Slavonia’s inability to compete isn’t new. Last summer also saw an influx of low-priced seasonal fruit, including watermelons, from many of the same countries Govozdić listed.

The video hit a painful note in Slavonia, where a mix of local economic forces, foreign policy and trade agreements have decimated Croatia’s chunk of the fertile Pannonian Basin.

The region is the epicenter of Croatia’s ongoing demographic crisis, which last year saw 47,000 residents leave the country. The figure is most likely higher, as not every emigrant announces his or her departure. Some parts of Eastern Croatia have thinned out by astounding margins, with Vukovar-Srijem County losing more than 60,000 inhabitants over two decades.

The problem will only be exacerbated as transportation hurdles are cleared, connecting major hubs like Osijek directly to the outside world.

Those remaining inhabit a region that’s a hollow husk of its former self. Scenes like Gvozdić’s have become so common, they are their own perverse, niche form of Croatian viral videos and photographs. Earlier this year, another Facebook photo posted by Andrija Branković showed Slavonian cherries dumped because of an inability to compete with imports.

Brankovic Cherries.jpg

Photo: Andrija Branković, Facebook

Those scenes may increase, as the European Commission recently announced it will end a programme introduced to help ease the pain of a Russian embargo on agricultural products from the continent, leaving European farmers flush with their own harvests.

Stjepan Zorić, vice president of the Croatian Fruit Community (HVZ) suggested other European countries had found a means to work around the issue by exporting to other markets. Croatia, he suggested, wasn’t so clever.

The dire economic situation is forcing many to head across the border into neighboring Bosnia, where similar or identical foodstuffs and provisions can be bought for cheaper prices.

Some in the private sector show optimism for the region, with companies like Vindija Group investing 7,4 million Euro in a new turkey farm in Brodski Stupnik. Slavonia is also home to Multinorm, an automobile parts firm which exports nearly all of its products. Others are trying to put the region on Croatia’s tourism map.

The government is trying to change the region’s trajectory, recently promising 29 EU-funded strategic projects aiming to aid the ailing economy, reverse demographic trends and reduce poverty. The 700 million kunas-worth of development agreement would mainly help channel EU money to Slavonia’s five counties.

“Where does one find the will to stay in this country and work in agriculture when in the 20th year of living you experience this?” Gvozdić wrote below the video.

“Let’s think a little about what we’re buying,” he added. “Read the labels; let’s buy local products because that’s the only way to save Croatia’s agriculture.”


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