May 2022 – 7  

Global View               
From the very beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, international organizations issued urgent warnings that the war will cause an increase in food prices with the result that many people around the world will not be able to afford sufficient amounts of food for sustenance.  Three months on, this fateful prediction has proven true.               
Even aside from the war, other factors are impacting on the production and distribution of foodstuffs, including climate change (droughts) and the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Connected with all this are transportation problems, as well as the growing price of energy supplies, fertilizers, seeds and other raw materials.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), food prices increased by 12% between February and March, the greatest jump in prices ever recorded for such a short period of time.  Of course, similar problems existed even before the war, since wealthy states never allocated enough money for humanitarian funds and for the most impoverished populations.  World Health Organization (WHO) Director Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus has indirectly accused the international community of ‘sending all its money to Ukraine,’ which is understandable, but a portion of that funding should also go to Tigray in Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and other war zones where people are suffering.  All lives should be treated on an equal basis.
               Up to 2050, global food production should actually increase by 50%, if we are to feed what is expected to be more than nine billion people.  But how will this growing need for food be satisfied if the degradation of land and climate change continue, along with the reduction in crops on an average of 10% globally and up to 50% in some affected regions of the world?
The View in Bosnia and Herzegovina
               In general, Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have a lot of high-quality cultivatable land.  On the whole territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first three productive categories represent only 14.2% of the territory.  More than 50% of cultivatable land is not used for agricultural production, while fully one-third of rural land is neglected and abandoned to the processes of degradation, especially in hilly and mountainous areas.
               Agricultural production is carried out on small, chopped-up land holdings, which represent only a small part of production for the marketplace.  The application of agrotechnical measures is on a low level and farms have inadequate equipment, insufficient irrigation and a low level of protection from adverse weather conditions.
               In 2020, the exportation of agricultural products from Bosnia and Herzegovina amounted to 846.40 million KM.  [NB:  “KM” is Bosnian currency, the “convertible mark,” and one KM is roughly equivalent to half a Euro, so that 846.40 million KM equals approximately 423.20 million Euros.]  The importation of agricultural products into Bosnia and Herzegovina was in the value of 3.01 billion KM.  The deficit in trade of agricultural products was 2.16 billion KM.  So, exports covered imports by 28.16%. The trade deficit in agricultural products in essence is a reflection of the general situation in Bosnian agriculture.
               The prices for agricultural products in 2021, in comparison with average prices in 2015, were higher by 26.9 percent.  Prices for crop products in 2021 registered an increase of 37.5% over those of 2015, while meat production prices increased by 16.4%.  Prices for goods and services for ongoing production in agriculture in 2021 showed an increase of 12.1 percent over prices from 2015.
Is There Hope for Better Times?
               There are new initiatives that represent opportunities for significant changes and sustainable management of agriculture on both the global and local levels.
               The renewal of degraded localities and urban areas holds the potential for a new paradigm in administration, a so-called economic revival and the green economy.  Through environmental protection, insurance systems and rehabilitating key eco-systems, we can ensure a more certain future for the generations to come.
               Are the governing authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina capable of responding to these challenges and critical conditions, such as pandemics, regional warfare in Ukraine or natural catastrophes, such as droughts, floods, wildfires and the like?  For decades Bosnia has been going around in circles and has not ensured the progress and security of its people, including provision of sufficient amounts of basic foodstuffs.  This is shown by the reduction of the agricultural portion of GDP from 9% in 2000 to 6.08% in 2020.  The percentage of overall employment in the agricultural sector in 2006 was 20.6%, while in 2020 it was only 12%.
               Spending from the national budget for the stimulating of agricultural production is more dedicated to maintaining social stability than to advancing production and implementing modern technology.
               It is possible to achieve potential opportunities in Bosnia and Herzegovina if there is a secure environment without constant tensions and threats to peace.  This requires the development of an integrated marketplace and a politically efficient and functional state.  The formation of a Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development on the state level represents a priority with the aim of using available resources and implementing a unified policy in the coming negotiations with the European Union (EU) and with other international organizations.
Summary of Session of 29 May 2022 The presenter at this session was Dr. Hamid Custovic, Professor Emeritus
Adil Kulenović. President  
Association of Independent Intellectuals – Circle 99 (Bosnian: Krug 99), a leading Bosnian think-tank, was established in Sarajevo in 1993, in the midst of the Bosnian war (1992-1995), while the capital was under siege. Circle 99 provides a platform to bring together intellectuals of various professional and ethnic identities; university professors, members of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and other prominent figures from Bosnia and from abroad. Multidisciplinary discussions and initiatives are held each Sunday throughout the academic year, in the form of regular sessions about politics, science, education, culture, economy, and other societal issues. The overall goal is to sensitize the public towards a democratic transformation, achieving and maintaining peace, and integration of modern Bosnia into the community of countries fostering liberal democracy. Circle 99 has been declared an organization of special significance for the city of Sarajevo.