Raspberries are little red berries, sold all over the world during the summer months. They originated from Russia, where they grow in the woods as a wild berry. They now grow in the wild all across eastern europe, and over the time farmers have come to farming the raspberry plants to produce sweeter and bigger berries. Raspberry is an easy crop to farm, as with the right climate it does require a lot of care compared to most other fruits, however still gives a farmer a lot of profit. Raspberry doesn’t grow well at all in the west of Europe, and Serbia is one of the main distributors of organic raspberry amongst most west and central european countries. To farm raspberry, the soil needs to be very fertile, light in texture, slightly loamy, and most importantly, it must have a constant supply of moisture which needs to reach pretty high up near the surface. Raspberry farming is very common in Serbia, as it’s climate and a lot of it’s land has got the perfect conditions to grow raspberries.
Once raspberry is planted on a field, it spreads across very easily, so there is not need to worry about replanting or plants dying out. It has a fragile root system located near to the ground, which is a problem if the water isn’t well drained, however otherwise it is very stable. The harvest starts in late june and ends in late july, giving farmers a month’s time to collect the main harvest. Raspberries can be planted both in Autumn and spring, and already from the second (very rarely first) year the plants start giving berries. Raspberries are very water-loving plants, and can be planted and harvested in one place for up to 10-25 years, however only the first 12 or so years will have good productivity, as in for only the first 12 years the plants will give good berries that can be exported to other countries according to European standards.
The relief of Serbia varies from north to south. The south of Serbia is mainly filled up with mountain ranges which aren’t very suitable for farming, however the northern part, called Vojvodina1, is flat lowland, which is really good for farming, especially for crops that need a lot of sunlight in their blooming/ripening season. The best tilt to the equator for raspberries to grow is around 2-3 degrees, which is exactly the case for most of Vojvodina, meaning the plants get a lot of sunshine.
The Vojvodina region is also brushed through with lots of rivers coming from the mountains and therefore the soil is well drained, causing the land to be very fertile and fullfilling the requirement of constantly moisturized soil (mentioned in the introduction). The soil is called chernozem, which is a type of soil listed amongst the most fertile sorts in the world. It is really good for growing fruits and berries as it contains a lot of humus, and very high percentages of phosphorus and ammonia.
Serbia is located in the south of east europe, therefore it has a relatively warm climate. Most of the year the temperatures are pretty high, however in the winter the temperature does get low, often below freezing, but this fact doesn’t affect raspberry growth at any rate as the plant only starts blooming in may or june, long after any cold weather is gone. The rainfall isnt really frequent, however regular and reliable, therefore that reduces the amount of manual watering that needs to be done.
Around one third of Serbia’s profits come from agriculture and fruit exports. Raspberry is the 3rd most produced crop in Serbia, bringing the 2nd most profit from agriculture exports, and raspberry farms use up 164 thousand hectares across the whole of Serbia, which occupies roughly 88 thousand, which means that approximatly 20% of all of Serbia’s land is devoted to raspberry farming, meaning that this type of farming is really important to the nation.
Farms are not typically very big, as lots of small farmers own land, so most of the farms are family-owned. Farms often share machinery they need, and as they are so small, farmers usually combine their products, selling and exporting together as one company. That way the also have to pay less tax on their goods, and are more likely to get more profit.
The government does a lot to help the industry, paying farmers for new machinery and expenses for fertiliser and a lot of other things, so that even the smallest farms can afford to be able to actually produce and sell product5.
Most raspberry farmers need divide their land up into sections, using land rotation to let half of the land be used up for farming raspberry for 12 years, and the other one resting for 12 years, in which time the soil regains all of the essential needed nutrients and minerals and is ready for planting when the other half is drained out of these.
Raspberry needs to be watered manually once a week, and fertilised once in the autumn and once in early spring. Both of these tasks can be done by machinery, however something that can’t be is collecting the berries from the plants. That needs to be done by hand, which is the only significant use of human labour in the whole farming process for raspberries. This means that the farm doesnt require big amount of workers to constantly look after it, and a farmer could hire people to help him only during the harvesting season which last around one month.
As a lot of people live in the rural areas of Serbia, labour is not very hard to find. A bit less then a third of Serbia’s population takes part in agricultural labour, and as raspberry is a significant part of Serbia’s agricultural industry, there are not shortages for human labour. Also, even though urbanization is starting to become an issue for agriculture, it is still not very strong and has perhaps only helped the country’s economy, acting as a technique similar as setaside land, not letting there be too much supply and therefore not letting the european market lower the price on the crop.
Serbia’s capital Belgrade is located in the Vojvodina, as well as another very big city Novi Sad, which is good for marketting as farms can be right near the bigger cities. Most are concentrated around two cities as you can see on the map. Belgrade has both a port and an airport which can be used for transport, and the whole region has a lot of railways heading off to all directions from Serbia, which is the transport used most commonly for raspberry transportation out of the country.
As raspberry has a very short life, it is not good after one day unless it has been frozen. Most of the raspberry is exported frozen as it is not easy to transport when it’s fresh..If it is transported fresh, not a lot can be put together as it is a very soft fruit and can easily be crushed by its own weight. Around 90 % of the strawberry is frozen or at least cooled for exporting, and the other 10 % is either transported fresh or used to make other products such as juices and concentrates.
Notes on the map:
1) As you can see, most fields are centered around the rivers. The rives make the soil more fertile as they constantly moisturize it.
2) Around Novi Sad there are much more farms then in the areas further away from the cities as transportation is an issue therefore farms need to be located closer to the bigger cities
3) Land at the south of the country is not suitable for farming because of the mountains and the different soil
4) The land tilt is 3 degrees to the south, meaning the plants get much more sunlight and warmth during the sunny seasons (3/4th of the year in this case)
5) Belgrade is the capital, it has a big railway station, a port, and an international airport. Belgrade is the trade center of the whole country, therefore it is really profitable to keep the farm nearby.
6) You can see all the different transportation methods out of the country – rivers, railways, all meeting up in Novi Sad and Belgrade.
Serbia Agriculture and Forestry – Encyclopedia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. 21 Feb. 2010 ;http://school.eb.co.uk/eb/article-42938?query=serbia%20agriculture;ct=;.
“Fao; pasture forage country profiles; Republic of Serbia.” FAO: FAO Home. 19 Feb. 2010 ;http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Counprof/serbia/serbia.htm;.
“Serbia.” Map. 20 Feb. 2010 ;http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/pub/aminet/pix/map/Serbia.jpg;.
Serbian Fruit Industry. SIEPA. 20 Feb. 2010 ;http://www.siepa.gov.rs/attach/FruitIndustryInSerbia.pdf;.
“StateMaster – Encyclopedia: Serbia.” StateMaster – US Statistics, State Comparisons. 20 Feb. 2010 ;http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Serbia#Transportation;.
“Taming Serbia’s wild raspberries.” Eric Jansson Online. 20 Feb. 2010 ;http://eric-jansson.blogspot.com/2007/06/stymied-by-legal-vacuum.html;.
“Vojvodina -.” Wikipedia. 20 Feb. 2010 ;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vojvodina#Geography;.
1 “Serbia.” Map. 20 Feb. 2010 ;http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/pub/aminet/pix/map/Serbia.jpg;.
2 “Vojvodina -.” Wikipedia. 20 Feb. 2010 ;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vojvodina#Geography;.
3 “Fao; pasture forage country profiles; Republic of Serbia.” FAO: FAO Home. 19 Feb. 2010 ;http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Counprof/serbia/serbia.htm;.
4 Serbian Fruit Industry. SIEPA. 20 Feb.2010 ;http://www.siepa.gov.rs/attach/FruitIndustryInSerbia.pdf;.
5 Serbia Agriculture and Forestry – Encyclopedia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. 21 Feb. 2010 ;http://school.eb.co.uk/eb/article-42938?query=serbia%20agriculture;ct=;.