Montenegro recorded an increase in exports in the first nine months of this year by 72%, compared to the same period last year, Monstat data show. However, in the same period, we imported more than EUR 465 million of food, most of which we produce ourselves, such as meat, fruit, vegetables, milk and eggs.
RTCG interlocutors explain that agricultural production is not enough to cover the needs of the domestic market, and that this could be changed with the help of the state, but also by raising the awareness of citizens to buy Montenegrin products.
Last year, Montenegro imported bananas for slightly more than EUR 7 million, because that fruit does not thrive in our country. At the same time, hundreds of millions of euros were spent on food that we produce or could produce. The same was true for the first 9 months of this year, when we imported 465 million EUR of food, of which most of the money went to the import of meat, grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy products and eggs.
– Why is it imported? It is imported because it is the needs of the Montenegrin market. Now the question arises why we do not produce what we import. Our agricultural production in Montenegro is worth some 350 to 400 million EUR, depending on the year, and these are mostly basic agricultural products. In that structure of basic agricultural products, the share of imports is not as large as it is for processed products in agricultural production – said Budimir Mugoša from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Regardless of the structure of imports, the Union of Employers says that everyone should be concerned that the Montenegrin market of 650,000 inhabitants in a country that has been declared ecological and suitable for the development of organic agriculture in particular relies on imports instead of its own production.
– We definitely do not have developed food production or adequate support for people who decide to engage in food production. The problem in Montenegro is that in the last 70 years the villages have been devastated, they remained empty and now it is difficult to motivate people to return and to produce – said Filip Lazović from the Union of Employers.
Even the relevant ministry does not dispute that it is so. For years, one percent of the budget has been set aside for agriculture, which is the smallest in Europe, and because of this, they say, even the state’s incentive measures cannot produce the expected results. That is why domestic products are generally more expensive than imported ones, although they can match their quality.
– In general, we do not have that awareness among buyers or consumers about the importance of supporting the domestic producer in some way. We had a larger number of campaigns, but it did not produce the desired results – said Lazović.
– The chicken we buy from domestic production was slaughtered yesterday or the day before yesterday, and today it is on the shelves. And imagine when the chicken that comes from Brazil is slaughtered. And we should think about that. My recommendation would be to buy 1.2 kg of domestic rather than 1.5 kg of imported goods. So think about it whenever you go shopping, because patriotism is not only when you support the Montenegrin national team, but also when you buy food from our fields. In addition, every euro spent on a domestic product remains in Montenegro – said Mugoša, local media writes.