CROP Croatia: Jerko Trogrlic and Jan de Jong to Make Croatia Plant Again

Lauren Simmonds

September the 21st, 2020 – What happens when a Dutchman and a Dalmatian walk into a room? No, it isn’t one of those age old jokes with a bad pun, but the reality behind the CROP Croatia (Hrvatska) story, involving Jerko Trogrlic and Jan de Jong, a Dutch entrepreneur who is already very well known.

“A Dalmatian and a Dutchman are going to plant tomatoes! Nope, it’s not a joke”, is the beginning of Jerko Trogrlic’s announcement, who, along with his partner Jan de Jong, rolled out a story that intrigued the media and numerous local governments throughout Croatia, not to mention investors.

Namely, as agroklub writes, these two longtime friends, and now the founders of CROP Croatia, decided to turn to tomato production. As Jan pointed out, he isn’t going to invest in apartments, villas and hotels, but in the high-tech greenhouse production of this particular vegetable.

“The reactions have been excellent. We’re being contacted by interested municipalities, as well as by people who want to invest. So, we’re still working on a business plan, and we’re being contacted by people who want to invest. We’re being offered larger amounts than we thought we’d need,” Jerko revealed, adding that they want to have their CROP Croatia greenhouses in several locations.

Where exactly they will be depends solely on the proximity of the energy required because tomatoes require heat. ”The location should have excess heat, whether it’s from geothermal sources or bioenergy. It must be one that holds water. We’ve got to have people who can be employed and we’ve got to have energy,” he noted.

It is striking that Croatia imports more than it exports…

The story is being worked out, and it is clear to them that if there is going to be a tomato greenhouse in Dalmatia, they’ll have to cool it down more, while in Slavonia and northern Croatia they will look for more heating, but also lighting due to less sunny days. But why tomatoes?


”For years, I’ve been struck by the fact that Croatia, the country that has fed the entire region, imports more than it exports,” says Jan de Jong.

“Apart from adoring them privately and even planting them in front of our house, the reason is that our partners from the Netherlands specialise in this production. Their knowledge is what prompted us to embark on this story. Look, we know what entrepreneurship is about, but we’re in agriculture a lot, too. We’ve been learning about it all for the last year, but thanks to our partners we also have the necessary know-how,” he revealed.

Namely, they are both, so to speak, digital. Jerko is the director of the Split-based public relations agency VAJT, and Jan is the head of Webpower Adria and the initiator of the initiative for the introduction of visas for digital nomads. They are now the proud co-owners of CROP Croatia.

Before founding this joint venture, they researched both the Croatian and European markets and determined that there is a large area available for placement.

”We see a lot more space during the winter because everyone produces during the summer, while this technology allows for high yields even in the winter months where we’ve so far been almost entirely focused on imports.

The tomato is a very resistant and transportable crop. So, apart from love for it, this is a purely rational decision,” Jerko emphasised.

One basic goal – Croatia will plant again!

Jan de Jong, a Dutchman who has been living in Croatia for 14 years, which is the same amount of time he has known Trogrlic, also realised that imports perhaps isn’t the way to go for Croatia. “For years, I’ve been struck by the fact that Croatia, the country that has fed the entire region, imports more than it exports,” wrote perhaps the most sought-after interlocutor of the media at the moment. Jerko’s phone is constantly ringing as well, but he says – Jan receives far more calls and messages and apologises to everyone he doesn’t get to answer.

”There are individuals in Croatia who, with more or less success, go through all the hardships of the road to agriculture, and now here come two new lunatics,” says Jerko Trogrlić.

In conclusion, the plan of the company CROP Croatia is to bring modern technology in the field of agriculture from the Netherlands with only one goal – to make Croatia plant again! The original plan was to build a greenhouse of 50,000 square metres and provide jobs for 70 people, and the planned value of the investment was 100 million kuna. But given the interest in the story of these two friends, their business plan will surely be finalised.

True, he added, on their way into Croatian agricultural waters they discover ”some illogicalities” in a country where agriculture is a strategic choice. What exactly those illogicalities where, he didn’t reveal, but be stressed: “I think there is good will in both the competent ministry and the government to get some things started for the better.

“There are individuals in Croatia who are going through all the hardships of the agricultural journey with more or less success, and now here are two new lunatics,” their Facebook post wrote. It should also be emphasised that in addition to achieving the goal of getting Croatia planting again, they are also working on demographic renewal. Both men are family men who have seven children between them.

Jan has four kids and I have three so he is better in that field even though we started at the same time! Our oldest children are seven years old, and the youngest are 9 or 10 months old. He had one more in between,” laughed Trogrlic.

These entrepreneurs live in Split but are in Zagreb every week, and it will be exciting to watch CROP Croatia grow, both proverbially and literally.

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