Building Back Shorter in Montenegro and Serbia

PROJECT SUMMARY

Disruptions during COVID-19 highlighted the urgent need to build resilience in food supply chains. Short value chains can reduce risks, boost smallholder incomes, and meet consumer demand for locally sourced fresh quality produce.

CONTEXT

The EBRD and FAO are working with local suppliers and retailers to source local products in Montenegro and Serbia to shorten supply chains. With the right support and investment, short value chains can provide profitable margins for local suppliers and retailers, link consumers to quality fresh produce of known origin and build resilience into local food systems. While shifts towards shorter more sustainable value chains were already in place, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the change, presenting new opportunities for producers, including digital innovations that link customers to retailers and suppliers.

This project builds on work already carried out to improve the competitiveness of smallholder producers through the quality and promotion of traditional agrifoods and through increased sustainability of value chains in the fruit and vegetable sector in both Serbia (2015) and Montenegro (2018) to analyse the market for local fruit and vegetable products in support to increased local sourcing from the retail sector.

Activities​

Map and assess current short value food chains in Montenegro through interviews and questionnaires and create a database of Short Food Value Chain actors and networks for an e-commerce/business-to-consumer (B2C) platform.

Provide the tools and knowledge for players in short food value chains to improve resilience including those related to COVID-19 safety requirements and diversify and capture new markets such as e-commerce and business-to-customer (B2C) marketplaces.

Share good practices from outside and within the region to build capacity and awareness of value chain stakeholders.

Support work to obtain Geographical Indications certification for candidate products in the horticultural sector including Serbian raspberries (Ariljska malina), sour cherries (Oblacinska visnja) and pepper paste (Ajvar).

Achievements

  • Delivering and organizing knowledge exchange and training sessions on food safety, branding, networking and knowledge sharing between Montenegro and Serbia, for example, through a newly established National Montenegrin farmers’ association.

  • Providing ongoing support to the business-to-business (B2B) agrifood e-platform – me in Montenegro to further expand its scope and functionalities for example through the addition of branding and marketing materials and online training courses and webinars. In 2021, over 30 knowledge-sharing posts were published on the platform covering topics such as market reports and food safety.

  • Publishing guidelines on local sourcing ‘Strengthening buyer/supplier relationships. Practical guidance for Montenegrin retailers’ which includes an overview of consumer trends, policy measures and other influencing factors that shape the engagement of retailers with suppliers. The guidelines are also useful for retailers in other countries including Serbia.
  • Publishing guidelines ‘Doing business in the time of COVID-19’ to educate accommodation providers in rural areas on preparing their households for the arrival of tourists to offer the safest possible accommodation and fully enjoy the traditions and world-renowned hospitality and ensure the best possible use of their accommodation capacity potential.

  • Certification obtained for three Serbian products – raspberries from Arilje (Ariljska malina), sour cherry from Oblacina (Oblacinska visnja) and pepper paste from Kopaonik (Ajvar), with ongoing support to Montenegro products identified for GI certification. Knowledge exchange and support for GI certification were carried out through remote coaching sessions and at the International GI Conference held in July 2022 in Montpellier.

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