Bosnian Dairy Farmers Cope with Flood Losses

Delivery of USAID assistance (seed and feed for dairy cows) to dairy farmers of Samac.
Dairy farmers of Šamac stand in front of newly delivered seed and feed for dairy cows.
Sladjan Jeremic of Dnevni Avaz, with permission
Grants help farmers buy feed and seed for fall sowing season
“Without this help, we would not have been able to continue the production of milk.”

Sept. 2014—Dairy farmers are still struggling to get back on their feet after the record rains, floods and landslides that devastated Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in May 2014. The floodwaters receded months ago, but the road to recovery will be difficult and long. Fortunately, the farmers won’t have to walk it alone.

In the weeks following the floods, USAID quickly awarded small grants to help dairy farmers in the worst-affected areas recover production lost during the floods, including dairy producers from Bosanski Šamac. Estimated damages to agricultural households in the Šamac area are $17 million, $10 million of which are damages to agricultural production.

With the grants, local dairy farmers were able to buy animal feed and seeds for sowing in the fall.

“Without this help, we would not have been able to continue the production of milk. This will significantly help us to overcome the challenges and continue normal production in the next few months,” said Marjan Bogdanović, president of the Association of Dairy Producers in Bosanski Šamac.

Altogether, the members of the association had 926 dairy cows, calves and heifers prior to the flooding, but have only 587 now. And the flooding occurred at a critical time in the agricultural calendar—one month before the harvest of cereal grains and after the planting of maize. Farmers producing in greenhouses had already transplanted seedlings outdoors. Loss of agricultural perishables—such as stored animal feed, fertilizers, manure and plant protection—was significant, as agricultural inputs that came in contact with the floodwaters were washed away, contaminated and rendered useless.

Cedomir Borojevic, a farmer in Tišina who lost hundreds of dairy cows in the floods, says the animal feed is important but that it’s even more important to start producing future animal feed on the farms. USAID’s assistance will help the Šamac producers feed their animals until the autumn harvesting season and to recultivate and replant 84 hectares of land with alfalfa, clover and legumes.

USAID has already committed more than $100,000 to support farmers in the worst-affected areas of Doboj, Šamac and Bratunac, including funds to help renovate the veterinary facility in Šamac, and a grant to a small dairy farmers' co-op in Bratunac to restart milk production.

The U.S. Government, primarily through the USAID Flood Recovery Initiative, has committed $14.7 million to help flood-affected areas in BiH rebuild infrastructure, restart businesses and restore agricultural production. In the agricultural sector, USAID will help flood-affected farmers in more than 20 municipalities through the Fostering Agricultural Markets Activity, a project jointly funded by USAID and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

This article is based on a story that appeared in the July 30, 2014, issue of local newspaper Dnevni Avaz.