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Sales of honey, quinces and traditional cheese produced in villages around Jagodina in central Serbia have increased, thanks to the Public Library Radislav Nikčević’s AgroLib-Ja project.
The library has designed a web portal (www.agrolib.rs – in Serbian and English) where farmers are now posting articles about agriculture, sharing information and marketing their produce. More and more farmers are using the site.
Public Library Radislav Nikčević has also created a network of four rural libraries, and with EIFL support, the libraries have installed computers and Internet connections. The libraries are now providing free training in online communications, research and marketing to farmers from the villages of Glavinci, Glogovac, Bagrdan and Bunar.
Through using technology to improve communications and information flows, the AgroLib-Ja project supports a wider local government initiative to modernize farming and improve farmers’ income. The libraries are also hosting a series of lectures by government officials and agricultural experts, providing additional opportunities for learning and networking, and revitalising the libraries’ role as centres for information exchange in rural areas.
Five months ago, dairy farmer Mr Dejan Stankovic was only marketing his cheese through the fresh produce market in Jagodina.
“When I met the AgroLib-Ja team they pointed me to the fact that the Internet can be used for the improvement of agricultural production. They taught me how to make a profile on the AgroLib market, and I have come across a lot of agricultural forums,” he said.
“I was very surprised when people who saw me on the Internet started getting in touch with me. I also found new customers. I think that the Internet is a good way of associating farmers and a good way of exchanging experiences,” he said.
One customer was especially happy: “In my family there are some of us who suffer from high blood pressure and we have a diabetic. I found this website AgroLib, and I was thrilled that such a site existed. Then I found out that there is a cheese made in a traditional way – dietary cheese. I was delighted. I called Mr Dejan, we talked about it and since then I have been buying this cheese constantly. The cheese is really good. It is their family tradition and they have been making it for a long time.”
To visit the market where Mr Stankovic’s grandmother sells the cheese, watch:
Members of the beekeeper’s association of Bagrdan village say that interest in their honey has increased since advertising on the web portal. They have also benefited from the project’s lectures, which provide an opportunity for networking.
“We met the representative of local self-government who will provide transportation to Belgrade for the Beekeeping Fair.” Next year, they will receive support to organize a beekeeping fair in Jagodina. Watch:
The AgroLib-Ja team invited Mr Zoran Milošević, an agricultural engineer who farms quinces to join the online market: “I really didn’t expect anything in the beginning. On the very first day I opened a profile on the AgroLib market I got a call from a producer from a village Trnava near Kragujevac,” he said.
Almost immediately, Mr Milošević sold 1,500 kg of quinces. “I got important contacts, and I think I will easily be able to sell the entire amount next season.” For more about Mr Milošević’s experience of online marketing watch: