The agriculture and processing of agricultural products
The research done in 2007/08 for the needs of making the Spatial Plan of the Nature Park and tourist region „Stara planina“, have shown that in this area can successfully produce many high quality agricultural products in the systems of traditional, integral and organic production.
Processing these products and adequate protection and branding enrich area tourist supply and contribute to its recognition.
These activities develop in the following micro-regions, depending on heterogeneous natural, resource, technical-organizational and social-economical conditions (Nikolić, 2008a: 19-21):
1. Timok fruit – viticulture region – it ranges over relatively densely populated zone of Zajecar-Knjazevac valleys and uplands and comprises 23% of the area’s agricultural land, over 40% of arable land, 48% of vineyards and half of land under the orchards. The participation of household with husbandry is low; there dominate small holdings with non-agricultural sources of income.
The production should be oriented toward lesser number of bigger cattle and sheep cooperative farms in ownership of associated small farmers, directed to controlled use of mountain permanent grassland, which gravitates toward Timok, for livestock breeding and organized cooperative processing and placement of branded meat and dairy products. In parallel with that, the conveniences for integral growing of fruit and vegetables should be used. The area of Knjazevac is a part of south sub-region of Timok vineyard region and it is famous by top red wines, which geographic origin should be protected and the production of vine revitalized, together with development of wine tourism;
2. Pirot viticultural – fruit region – it occupies only 11% of agricultural land, but there are 22% of orchards and 48% of vineyards of the area. It is characterized by fragmentized holdings, undeveloped livestock breeding and high participation of non-private ownership of land.
The preferential directions of investments refer to renewal of vineyards and wine production in this region, which belong to Nisava-South Morava viticulture region and has long tradition of quality white and red wines’ production, with great potentials for development of wine tourism. The revitalization of traditional production of Pirot caciocavallo suggests the need for building lesser number of big sheep farms, supported by use of pastures which gravitate toward Pirot, and adequate processing capacities (mini slaughter-houses for lambs, mini dairies…). Small husbandries should be supported to orientate toward small production programs (autochthonous sorts of fruit, vegetables, honey, fish, etc.), production associations building and founding SMEs for collection, preparation, storage and distribution of these products and product preparations.
3. Knjazevac polymorphic region – encompasses northwest slopes of Stara planina and it is characteristic by heterogeneous production structure (11% of arable land, 3% vineyards and 7% of orchards, 7% of meadows and 7% of pastures), numerous small husbandries and traditional production methods.
Owing to the vicinity and partial stretch within the park’s protecting zone, this area is especially favourable for development of organic production of autochthonous fruit sorts, rare sorts of grain and medicinal herbs and their placement under the trade mark of Stara planina Nature Park. Good results can be achieved also in development of traditional mixed livestock breeding, with dairy cattle as a leading branch and organized in common mountain grazing.
4. Grazing region – it comprises 71% of meadows, 72% of pastures, 30% of arable land and 21% of orchards of the area and ranges over mountain terrains of the municipalities of Dimitrovgrad, Pirot and Knjazevac, over 800 m above sea level. The basic limitation for sustainable use of these potentials is depopulation, which alleviation is expected with development of the tourist resort.
In the field of agriculture the priorities are linked to a renewal of livestock grazing and strengthening of the organic production and protection of origin, especially sheep meat and milk and their preparations, in connection with processing capacities in city centres, where some villages, i.e. pasture series, traditionally gravitate to. The preservation of population density, sustainable use of agricultural land in mountain area with limited production capabilities and respecting the park’s protected zones, mostly present within this region, should be compensated to multifunctional husbandries with adequate budgetary subsidies.
Николић Марија (2008а). Коришћење пољопривредног земљишта, развој пољопривреде и ревитализација села. Концепција за потребе израде Просторног плана Парка природе и туристичке регије Стара планина, Институт за архитектуру и урбанизам Србије, Београд
Autori: Vesna Popović, Marija Nikolić, Branko Katić