On July 29th for the first time ever, ConviviumVelika Plana organized Terra Madre Morava, a gathering of small-scale food producers given an opportunity to showcase their products in the spirit of the SlowFood philosophy. The host of the event, Superior, a local seed company and GFAR partner, opened its doors to 17 producers from the Braničevo Podunavlje region, and more than 600 visitors from all over the Balkans. The aim was to stimulate interest in their products, while drawing attention to the challenges these producers face in today’s markets, and the potential that cross-sectoral collaboration can have to improve their positioning in those markets.
Starting in the late morning and lasting the whole afternoon, during these several hours the fields of Superior were a melting pot of agricultural and food producers, institutions, academia and consumers, where the image of fruits and vegetables, taste and stories truly evoked good, clean and fair philosophy.
The visitors could taste and buy various typical traditional products.
The Radić family presented their sweet and savory range of products: different marmalades made of seasonal fruit (at the moment apricot, strawberry, cherry, white cherry), and ajvar, a typical red pepper cream, made of roasted peppers.
Nevena, a young lady originating from the town of Velika Plana presented her medovača honey spirit, an alcoholic beverage made by honey fermentation. She uses honey from her father, a beekeeper from the area, who is also a member of the local beekeepers association. Around Velika Plana, there is a relatively small but concentrated oak forest surrounded by lots of acacia, so it is a source of a very special acacia honey.
Another honey region was showcased by a special guest from Slow Food Convivium Novi Sad: Todor, a very young representative of family production of linden honey. This honey is the only one in Serbia with geographical indication of origin.
Visitors could taste another strong spirit, made from a plum called rakija šlivovica, of the crvena ranka cultivar. This product has the status of Presidium Slow Food. Crvena ranka cultivar is not only special for giving the spirit an excellent taste, but is also one of the rare cultivars resistant to plum pox virus.
Terra Madre didn’t only host small-scale food producers. There were also interesting artisans preserving almost forgotten crafts. Visitors could see traditional shoes, distillations and cosmetics.
Discussing with producers while tasting their products, the pride they take in their work could be readily perceived. At the same time, it was easy to spot the challenges they are facing. Mainly thanks to the large Serbian diaspora, these kinds of products are highly valued and there is strong international market demand. However, due to regulations for export, and the need for organizational structures of small producers, cross-sectoral collaboration is lacking. Even in the cases of successful promotion of traditional products, in the form of geographical indications for instance, the situation is approached rather top-down, and producers themselves are the ones to be consulted the least. This is not only a governmental approach; academia and research intuitions in this area are not implementing participatory methods involving farmers, and incorporating traditional know-how.
Being partners in GFAR, Convivium Velika Plana, Superior Seeds, and Ypard Serbia, are trying to show what is present in central Serbia (and perhaps extending to the whole Balkan region), to attract attention and interest for agriculture and innovations in agriculture, and create new partnerships for development. It is hoped that new collective actions can be initiated among the existing partners involved in Terra Madre Morava, as well as others, to empower small-scale producers by helping to broaden the interest and market for their products.
This story is part of our Partner Spotlight this week on Convivium Velika Plana.
GFAR Secretariat is turning the spotlight on the work and collective actions of Partners in GFARwho share in our mission to strengthen and transform agri-food research and innovation systems globally. Not a GFAR partner yet? Join now!
Photo credits: Convivium Velika Plana