In Croatia: Helping Farmers Comply with EU Standards
June 26, 2013
When Croatian poultry farmer Mladen Ceglec learned that new EU rules would soon apply to his country, he said that he and other farmers in his region wanted to comply.
But properly managing the waste that their thousands of chickens produced daily would cost more than they could afford. And so they sought help from the local municipality.
“They saw that this looks awful and that we are ruining the water, so the mayor called us and brought us together,” Ceglec says.
The municipality informed him and the other farmers of new EU directives, and helped them to get a grant, which paid 75 percent of the costs to build new concrete manure plots to prevent the dangerous nitrates of the waste from flowing directly into the soil.
The pollution control project is a project to protect underground water from nitrates, which are highest in percentage and most dangerous in poultry manure
"The pollution control project is a project to protect underground water from nitrates, which are highest in percentage and most dangerous in poultry manure,” says Vlado Kurecic, Mayor of Petrijanec – the municipality that helped Ceglec and the other farmers.
“We thought it was smart to develop these manure plots, and, in the en,d the World Bank returned 75 percent of the cost to the farmers,” says Kurecic.
The pollution control project aims at promoting better and safer agricultural practices in Croatia.
The World Bank-supported project, financed by the Global Environmental Facility, is helping the country meet European Union standards, in part by implementing controls on the nitrates and other minerals involved in farming, which can be harmful when they enter the country’s water system.
Under the project, agricultural specialists are out sampling the water deep beneath the soil of some 1,400 hectares of Croatia’s fields and orchards.
The water samples are taken back to university laboratories where they are analyzed by PHD students, like Lana Matijevic, with the help of advanced analytical equipment provided by the agriculture project.
“If we didn’t have the equipment, then we would have to do all the analysis manually. And, as you know, manual determination is much slower and much less precise,” says Matijevic.
The lab results are made available to those farmers who are interested. They receive recommendations on how much and what type of manure and other fertilizers are safer to use, which are more in line with EU standards.
We make scientific recommendations to farmers and agricultural producers on the amount of manure they can use to avoid polluting underground waters and to protect the quality of underground waters
“We make scientific recommendations to farmers and agricultural producers on the amount of manure they can use to avoid polluting underground waters and to protect the quality of underground waters,” says Davor Romic of Zagreb University’s Agriculture Faculty, where some of the water tests are being done.
It is estimated that some 10,000 Croatian farmers have benefitted from the project’s awareness campaigns and demonstrations in adopting nutrient planning techniques, in 60 different municipalities around the country.
Jana Pikija is one of them. She learned through the project that manure from her dairy cows was harming the environment, and got a grant that helped her pay for an eco-friendly storage plot.
“We have built a manure storage. So we put manure in there. By doing that, we protect the water,” says Pikija, adding that by protecting the water, she’s protecting the future of Croatia and the country’s generations to come.
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