New automatic watering and heating systems, pumps and wells for supplying water to greenhouses are the latest additions helping expand the production of seedlings and vegetables in the general agricultural cooperative Agrofood from Konjević Polje – a trend it has continuously pursued since its establishment nine years ago.
Agrofood’s Director Senad Omerović explains that the irrigation systems and improved thermal insulation conditions in the 700-square-meter greenhouse, including the construction of a brand new 400-square-meter greenhouse, were secured thanks to EU4AGRI project, allowing for production growth this year.
With agricultural production on the area of 35 dunams, 14 greenhouses and one glass greenhouse, Agrofood is the only certified producer of organic plantings of 15 different types of vegetables, such as several varieties of tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers, watermelons, eggplants and other vegetables, and as of recently, also various flowers.
“We were producing seedlings and at one point developed to the extent where the demand exceeded our production capacity. The greenhouse we used was not suitable, due to poor insulation, the foils covering it were old and we did not have systems for insulation, watering and heating, so we watered with hoses,” says Omerović. “I came up with the idea that we should expand and renew our business, and automate everything. Now it is much easier for us to produce 300,000 seedlings. Before, our annual output used to be 150,000”.
When he returned to his native Novo Selo two decades ago, former Zvornik taxi driver and electrical technician Senad Omerović was out of work. There was not much choice for him and his wife Fatima, so they started cultivating the land. For several years, they planted gherkins and raspberries and cooperated with a cooperative in Zvornik, and then they built their first greenhouse with the help of donations to returnee families such as themselves.
For Senad and Fatima, the production they have today is an achievement that they did not plan when they started farming after returning from Lukavac in 2001, where they lived with their two children and his mother after having spent the war in Srebrenica.
The fruits of their hard work in the 100-square-meter greenhouse were 2.5 tonnes of tomatoes, which they soon sold in the village and the surrounding area.
“Back in 2008, I started thinking about another location and came up with the idea that it should be here in Konjević Polje, as it is a crossroad and next to the main road”, says this agricultural producer, who now with the help of EU4AGRI project and European Union funding is improving the well-developed production of healthy food.
For 13 years now, he has been producing vegetables, seedlings and corn for human consumption on the leased 35 dunams, initially with a registered agricultural holding and later as the director of the cooperative he formed with four other partners, supplying markets in the Birač region but also companies in Sarajevo, Visoko, Banja Luka, Mostar and other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Years in production and expansion of the offer do not leave much free time. However, in recent months, on top of all the other work she does, Fatima started planting flowers, and now the Agrofood company offers various new seedlings such as gillyflower, valerian, dahlia, petunias and other flowers.
Since it was registered as a cooperative, Agrofood has employees and subcontractors who produce jam, eggs and other home-made food for them, which they can then include in their offer.
A lot of effort was also put into meeting the requirements and obtaining a certificate for organic production, as highlighted by Omerović.