Supporting young people engaged in agriculture is the best investment in the future

Today, the Agricultural and Veterinary School with the "Svilajnac" student dormitory hosted the US Government's aid coordinator for Europe and Eurasia at the State Department, Maria A. Longi. On that occasion, representatives of the school, the municipality of Svilajnac, the "Big Small Economy" project funded by USAID and the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation presented the activities of the Fund for the Empowerment of Young Farmers, which was launched last year. Thanks to this Fund, already after the first competition, 12 students of the final year of the Agricultural and Veterinary School received financial resources that they invested in the improvement of their households and agricultural production.

Maria Longi, the coordinator of the US Government's aid for Europe and Eurasia at the State Department, visited the school with the student's dormitory together with her hosts, demonstrated the goods, spoke with the professors and students, and on that occasion stated: "I am happy that my visit to Serbia ends in Svilajnac and that I had the opportunity to visit the famous agricultural school and meet our partners from the school and the municipality. Supporting young people engaged in agriculture is the best investment in the future, and today I saw how much a little help can contribute. If the young people I met here continue to work to acquire the knowledge needed for sustainable agriculture, we can really be proud. The government of the United States of America, through USAID, will continue to support such initiatives, and we hope that other municipalities will join, so that even more students can receive funds to invest in more efficient agricultural production."

In addition to receiving financial support, students work with mentors during the school year and thus learn how to create their business plan and apply for different types of financing, in order to work on improving their farms and be more prepared for the challenges of the market after finishing school.

"Our school continuously works to increase the number of students who opt for agriculture as their vocation, because this way we can influence local development. That's why we take great pleasure in participating in activities that help our students develop their households and be better prepared for everything that awaits them in the workplace. We hope that we have conveyed to Ms. Longi at least part of what our students do here every day and that we will continue the cooperation with USAID that started 20 years ago, and it continues now just as successfully," said Dejan Milunović, director of the agricultural school. in Svilajnac.

Goran Despotović, assistant to the president of the Municipality of Svilajnac for agriculture, said during a tour of the school: “The municipality of Svilajnac has excellent cooperation with USAID and the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation. The idea is to help young farmers through the Fund when they finish school, and to apply the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired in school on their farms. We think that this cooperation and the purchase of agricultural equipment will make it easier for those young people to produce on their farms.

After visiting the school, the delegation of the State Department went to the village of Kušiljevo, near Svilajnac, to meet two former students who received funding in the 2023 open call. Stefan Đurćević is now a student at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Belgrade, and he invested the funds he received in a mower so that he and his father could cultivate the land more easily and continue to successfully engage in livestock breeding, for which they are known. Vojin Vujisić and his family are involved in fruit growing, with the funds they received they bought a tarp, the use of which he demonstrated to the guests.

During 2023, the Fund for the Empowerment of Young Farmers was implemented in agricultural schools in Požega and Svilajnac and with the municipalities of Užice, Čajetina, Požega, Gornji Milanovac, Arilje, Prijepolje and Svilajnac. About 100 students went through the mentoring program, and 32 of them received funding through an open call with a total value of RSD 5,850,000.


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