ZAGREB, 15 Oct (Hina) – Work has been under way on preparing project documentation for the construction of a mountain farming centre to be based in Gospić, in the central Croatian Lika-Senj County.
The practice and results of the future centre are expected to be applied in the karst area of 80 municipalities and towns located at more than 500 metres above sea level from Dubrovnik to Istria and Karlovac, without the coastal area and islands.
The plan is for the centre to help in the development of the karst areas at an altitude of more than 500 metres, said Ante Franić, one of the initiators of the project and president of the Association of Buša Cow Farmers.
The Buša is an autochthonous, 6,000-year-old breed of the Dinara mountain range karst area, said Franić who with his wife owns a 20-hectare family farm with 30 head of Buša cows in a village near Gospić.
The purpose of the centre would be to protect autochthonous breeds from extinction, develop them over the next 20 years or so and strengthen them enough to be suitable for commercial use, Franić said.
Experts will be involved in the work of the centre based on a cooperation agreement signed between Zagreb University and Lika-Senj County on 30 September.
The centre is expected to include a central distribution unit so that producers can distribute their products to bigger markets, a unit for the processing of the meat of the autochthonous breeds, and a facility where farm products will be sold.
The centre will also include a large multifunctional area for the field work of researchers and a museum.
Franić said that the protection of autochthonous breeds is included in the EU’s common agricultural policy because the more profitable breeds have proven to require, in order to achieve the best results, such soil and feeding conditions that do not exist in mountainous areas. On the other hand, autochthonous breeds have been there for thousands of years and are adapted to those conditions so their farming should be strongly supported, notably considering the current time of climate and other challenges, he said.
The future mountain farming centre in Gospić will also include a fairground with an auction hall.
Several hectares of the centre’s area will be used for the testing of seedlings and the sowing of cereals and grass for karst areas located at more than 500 metres above sea level, and also planned is a gastronomy centre for future waiters and cooks where autochthonous products and the gastronomic value of local breeds’ cheese and meat will be promoted.
One of the schemes of the future centre will be dedicated to the development of rural areas based on the principle of smart villages, including sustainability projects such as photovoltaic power stations and broadband Internet and the introduction of modern equipment for the green and digital transition.
Speaking at the signing of the agreement, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said that the region of Lika “needs stronger, better and more concrete results, that is, certain changes.”
The national strategic plan for the Common Agricultural Policy for the period from 2023 to 2027 envisages projects for smart villages, “those where people have enough knowledge, activity and creativity to propose smart ideas, find ways to finance them and where public administration provides the necessary conditions and good connectivity both within the rural community and to the broader area,” the minister told Hina.