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THE WESTERN BALKANS - SERBIA
Serbia occupies the north-eastern part of the Western Balkans. The terrain of Serbia ranges from rich fertile plains in the region of northern Vojvodina to limestone and river basins in the east, and mountains and hills in the southwest. The north is dominated by the Danube while the Morava basin covers most of the mountainous southern regions. Mountainous terrains cover 38.5% of Serbia, of which one third is above 1000 m high. In rough terms, we can sayclimate in Serbia is continental in the north, moderate continental in the south, and mountain on high mountains. Based on its topography, climate, land quality, agricultural production systems and socio-economic development, Serbia can be divided into three broad zones: Vojvodina, central and southern Serbia.
Agriculture in Serbia
Serbia is a land of great differences, both in terms of land quality, as well as in terms of the agricultural production system, and the socio-economic level of development. This is especially evident in comparison with the developed rural areas of Vojvodina and marginalized mountainous rural areas of central and southern Serbia. Agricultural land covers about 66% of the total area of arable land. Gardens occupy 3.3 million ha, orchards 242 000 ha; and vineyards 58 000 ha. Permanent grasslands cover 28% of agricultural land. Farm size in Serbia is generally lower than the average size of farms in European countries. Over 75% of private farms have an area of less than 5 ha, and less than 5% have more than 10 ha. Because of their small size, most of these farms produce only enough for the consumption of their own household or sell only a small part of their products.
Agriculture and nature of Serbia are closely linked to natural resources, traditional agricultural landscapes, and biodiversity of rural areas. Agricultural production systems have become regionally differentiated:
- 1) Area of cultivation of vegetables and livestock, which includes plains and flat surfaces in river valleys;
- 2) Mixed farming area: livestock breeding and fruit and/or vineyard region extending over hilly terrain;
- 3) Livestock breeding region that includes mountainous areas dominated by natural and semi-natural grasslandresources.
High nature value farming in Serbia
The Environmental Protection Agency of the Republic of Serbia identified potential agricultural areas of high nature value in Serbia in 2010. The research is based on the EEA Approach (European Environment Agency), using available national datasets. The results show that potentially agricultural land of high nature value covers 1,187 million ha (about 20% of the agricultural area). Most of these are grasslands that cover about 1 million ha. Experts estimate that the total area of agricultural land of high nature value in Serbia is probably higher since the approach to the assessment did not fully cover mosaic agricultural land or agricultural land inhabited by rare species.
In Serbia, agricultural systems in fertile plains in the north (Vojvodina) and central parts of the country are dominated by the intensive production of cereals and industrial plants, as well as dairy cows in intensive breeding. In less fertile, and mostly mountainous regions of southern Serbia, agricultural systems are more diversified (vegetable, viticulture and fodder production as support to livestock breeding). Production methods are mainly of low intensity, labor-intensive and highly focused on semi-natural production. Farms often have a forest plot, rarely more than one hectare, primarily to provide heating. Extensive grazing in mountainous forest areas has allowed the development of significant vegetation diversity on higher pastures. Some of the grasslands are used in combination with extensive grazing and late mowing (Njegovan, 2006).
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