Agricultural policy and the related activities are covered by a number of sustainable development goals from the UN 2030 Agenda. The bulk of goals and indicators concern food growing, processing and safety (SDG 2), ensuring availability of clean water, sanitation and preserving water resources (SDG 6), development of sustainable fisheries, conservation of marine systems and aquaculture (SDG 14) and protection of forests, afforestation and prevention of soil erosion (SDG 15). Apart from the SDG 2, which promotes availability of food for all, SDG 12 seeks to ensure proper, responsible and sustainable food production and consumption, primarily through management of food waste (target 12.3). The UN 2030 Agenda strongly emphasises gender equality entailing also access to ownership and control over land and registered agricultural holdings to a larger number of women (SDG 5, target 5.A), which should ultimately result in poverty reduction among the general population (SDG 1). Obviously, greater impact within the framework of the SDG 1 will be achieved if the poor, regardless of sex, have greater access to ownership over land (target 1.4). Within the UN system, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is responsible for the area of agriculture and related activities, covered by specialised divisions. The National Sustainable Development Strategy by 2030 nationalised these international commitments, and agriculture and the related activities hold a prominent position in the document, primarily covered by thematic areas 2, 3 and 4. Some of the most relevant key outcomes expected by 2030:
– Eliminated undernourishment and hunger and ensured access to nutritive food, Increased share of agriculture in gross added value and employment, Increased agricultural export and export of foodstuff, as well as their competitiveness at the regional market (measures 2.1.2, 2.5.2, 2.8.2),
– At five-year cross-checks growth is recorded in proportion of forests in land capacity (by measuring Ecological Footprint), so that forests and forest land participate with at least 75% in total land biocapacity, Increased wood volume in commercial high forests to 30m3/ha on average, Increased shares of the first and second growing class by 10% each, Increased area of selection and group selection forests on the account of even-aged forests, Increased coverage of high forests by 2%, Increased openness of commercial forests at least to 15 m/ha (measures 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.2.3, 3.2.4, 3.6.5),
– Rural development supports preservation of valuable agricultural areas, nature and landscapes, connection of local communities’ interests, creation of new jobs, preservation and affirmation of autochthonous cultural and historical values. – Increased the values of output in agriculture for 30–40% and employment in rural areas for around 10%, Rural and green entrepreneurial projects implemented and producers successfully operate, Achieved recognition of local traditional agricultural products, through established systems of certification and promotion of their recognition and quality, Green payments in agro budget reach 30% (measures 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.2.1, 4.2.3, 4.2.5, 4.4.1, 4.4.2, 4.4.3, 4.5.1, 4.5.2, 4.5.3, 4.7.2, 4.7.4),
– Increased export of agricultural and food products, by reducing of non-tariff measures in the region and by trade facilitations (measures 6.2.1, 6.2.4).
Three EU Acquis chapters are directly linked with the agricultural policy and the related activities, namely chapter 11, 12 and 13. Montenegro opened Chapter 11 Agriculture and rural development, on 13 December 2016, where the strategy for agriculture and rural development, set as the opening benchmark, was adopted in 2015 for the period up to 2020. Closing benchmarks include presenting an implementation plan for the establishment of an Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) and an implementation plan for the setting up of a Paying Agency to be fully operational by the date of accession.
Chapter 12 Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy was opened on 30 June 2016, and before accession Montenegro is expected to submit to the Commission an approved national programme for the upgrading of establishments for products of animal origin, including establishments for animal by-products, provide guarantees for setting up of an EU compliant system for official controls of live animals and animal products, including its funding and further increase administrative and other capacities to correctly implement and apply all the acquis covered by this chapter.
Together with Chapter 12, Chapter 13 Fisheries was also opened, and the Fisheries Strategy, which was the opening benchmark, was adopted in 2015 for the period up to 2020. The closing benchmarks for this chapter include a substantial degree of alignment with the EU acquis, and strengthening the administrative, inspection and control capacity required by the Common Fisheries Policy.
The segments concerning water management touch upon Chapter 27 Environment, whose opening benchmark entailed adoption of a comprehensive strategy and the action plan that is to focus particularly on alignment with the EU Acquis on water, nature and waste. The Chapter was opened on 18 December 2018, with 8 closing benchmarks in total, among which particularly relevant for agriculture and related activities are the ones concerning legislative alignment in the water sector, adoption of river basin management plans and conservation of natural habitats.
The last EC Report on Montenegro (2019) notes for Chapters 11 and 12 that Montenegro is moderately prepared, but also reports good progress, Chapter 13 records only some level of preparation for assuming obligations. Particularly good progress was achieved on the implementation of the IPARD II programme, transposition of the EU Acquis and the upgrading process of food establishments, while in the upcoming period the focus should be on fostering organic production, improving raw milk quality, fishing fleet management, finding systemic solutions and appropriate market policies for these areas. Chapter 27 is known as one of the most voluminous chapters, and the MARD together with MSDT should invest utmost efforts to set up an adequate water, water quality and wastewater management system.
The European Green Deal accentuates preservation of rural areas, given that over 50% of Europeans live there. Thus, the new Farm to Fork Strategy was proposed, which supports sustainable food value chain, recognised as one of the priorities also in Montenegrin Smart Specialisation Strategy 2019-2024. The Strategy primarily deals with sustainable food production, processing, distribution and consumption, prevention of food waste and food loss that should be stimulated through adapted legal provisions, advisory and financial instruments, research and innovation in order for the EU to be prepared to respond to contingencies, such as the one caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
EU’s comprehensive framework for the area of agriculture is given in its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which since 2018 pursues nine new priorities: 1) ensure a fair income to farmers, 2) increase competitiveness, 3) rebalance the power in the food chain, 4) climate change action, 5) environmental care, 6) preserve landscapes and biodiversity, 7) support generational renewal, 8) vibrant rural areas, 9) protect food and health quality. CAP is funded from two specialised European funds – European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF). Back in 2018, the EC proposed the budget of EUR365 bn for CAP in the new multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, which is close to 1/3 of the total EU budget. In addition, Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) comprises key issues in the area of fisheries, reformed in 2014 by setting fishing effort limits to preserve fish stocks, while given more control to member states in management at the national and the regional levels. Its four main policy areas are fisheries management, international policy, market and trade policies and financing. Fisheries policy is funded under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), that according to the new EC proposal should amount to EUR6.14 bn in the new multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, where some 30% should go for climate change mitigation efforts by protecting marine ecosystems.
SDG indicator 12.3AIDMonitor Gender and Land Right Database Global Forest Resources Assessments
SDG indicators 15.1.1, 15.2.1Mountain Green Cover Index
SDG indicator 15.4.2Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD – IS) Red List Index Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) Agriculture orientation index for government expenditure
Apart from the NSDS 2030, other overarching strategy documents in Montenegrin planning system also recognise the catalyst effect of agricultural policy on other policy areas. The main goals in all of them refer to increasing competitiveness of agriculture and agricultural produce, improving living conditions in rural areas, and forest conservation. On the other hand, the challenges identified by almost all overarching documents include poor networking of farmers, poor infrastructure in rural areas, and unfavourable age structure at agricultural holdings. Positive trends are noted primarily concerning investments, given the increasing appropriations in the agribudget, and from donations.
The Development Directions for Montenegro 2018-2021 position agriculture, rural development and forestry under the heading of sustainable growth. The focus is on full alignment with the pertinent EU Acquis, approximation to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), rural sustainability, forestry reforms, strengthening forest resilience and greater competitiveness of agriculture. Similarly so, the Medium-term Government Work Programme 2018-2020 sets the goals and targets intended to be achieved through increased investments in preservation of rural areas, organic production, youth (self)employment. In addition, the link with tourism and trade is accentuated, supposed to be achieved through increasing the number of rural holdings, summer pasture villages and eco-villages and the number of visits and overnight stays in rural areas. The Economic Reforms Programme 2020-2022 forecasts the average real growth rate in agriculture in the range of 3%, underpinned by increased investments in agriculture, with substantial credit support. Ultimately, this is supposed to reduce food imports and lead to possible increased exports. Relevant for agriculture is the priority reform measure 4: Support to investments in food production sector with a view to increasing competitiveness, including also rural tourism anticipated to foster youth and women employment in agriculture and related activities.
The key planning document for agricultural policy adopted annually and setting key policy measures is the Agribudget. The appropriation for the 2020 Agribudget is EUR60,722,500.00 which is an increase of some EUR 8,300,000 compared to 2019, and is composed of budgetary allocation, donations and credit lines. The budget funds are intended for the agriculture, rural development and fisheries, co-funding shares for international projects (IFAD), food and foodstuff safety, animal health and phytosanitary measures. Apart from the Agribudget, the sector-specific strategies governing agricultural policy include the following: the Strategy for the Development of Agriculture and Rural Areas 2015-2020, Fisheries Strategy 2015-2020, the Strategy for Development of Forests and Forestry 2015-2023 (revised in 2018), Water Management Strategy 2018-2035. The main goals pursued and challenges identified are similar to the ones set in overarching documents, indicating mutual coherence. Some strategy papers, such as the National Forestry Policy, the Action Plan for Curbing Illegal Extraction of River Deposits 2019-2021, the Action Plan for Preventing Illegal Forestry Activities 2019-2021 are foreseen by statutory provisions, while others were designed and are implemented within the framework of the EU accession negotiations (e.g. the Action Plan for Alignment with the EU Acquis Chapter 11- Agriculture and Rural Development).
With a view to assuaging the adverse impact of the COVID-19 crisis and supporting agriculture and fisheries sectors, at its session held on 24 April 2020, the Government adopted Specific Support Programme for Agriculture and Fisheries worth EUR17,000,000, in addition to the Agribudget, domestic and European funding. Its delivery started already on 30 April 2020.
The Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development within the framework of IPARD II 2014-2020 (IPARD II programme) is one of the preconditions for accessing EU pre-accession assistance under IPA II for agriculture and rural development, where EUR 51,816,473 worth in grant funding is available to Montenegrin farmers (EU funds EUR39,000,000, national co-financing EUR12,816,473). IPARD II contains seven measures, where Montenegro implements measure 1 – Investments in physical assets in agricultural holdings and 3 – Investments in physical assets concerning processing and marketing of agricultural and fishery products (Implementing regulation for measures 1 and 3).
According to MONSTAT 2018 data, agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector accounted for 6.7% of GDP (6,9% in 2017), and 2018 GDP amounted to EUR313,933,000 (EUR 294,655,000 in 2017). According to the study Women and Men in Montenegro (2019), total employment in agricultural sector was 18,200, 11,200 men and 7,000 women. The data from the 2010 Agricultural Census show that 87.13% men are heads of holdings. Gross production value in agriculture, forestry and fisheries in 2018 was EUR515,200,000, or an increase of 6.7% compared to 2017.
The links with other sectors can best be seen in mutually reinforcing goals and measures from sector-specific strategy papers. Given the efforts to improve research and development, the first priority sector in the Smart Specialisation Strategy 2019-2024 refers to sustainable agriculture and food value chain which aims to increase the number of entrepreneurs and businesses in organic production, and the number of innovative and indigenous products in food industry. Links with tourism were embodied in the Rural Tourism Development Programme 2019-2021, which aspires to sustainable development of diverse and authentic tourism products while improving the living standards for the rural population and ending depopulation. Closely linked with that is the Regional Development Strategy 2014-2020, aimed primarily at balanced regional development, focusing on the northern region and rural areas. Given the importance of self-employment and entrepreneurship in agriculture, both the SME Development Strategy 2018-2022 (through grants, facilitated access to funding, and particularly through strengthening the existing and setting up new clusters) and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Strategy 2015-2020 (financial support for women in agriculture and funding for projects led by rural women) should envisage goals and measures fostering agricultural production.