Challenges and Opportunities
The most critical threats to the preservation of HNV farming in BiH is the declining number of farmers and the loss of traditional land management practices. The recent war dramatically changed the rural landscape and accelerated the process of urbanisation. Rural-to-urban migration is causing the rapid conversion of areas of high natural value to non-agricultural uses like housing, commerce, industry and infrastructure, especially near cities and villages.
Low productivity is caused by very inefficient production procedures and poorly developed interaction between production and other links in the market chain. Even in the sector s for which BiH has natural and climatic advantages such as the fruit and vegetable sector, imported products dominate the market. The agricultural advisory and extensions services are also poorly developed.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the emerging eco-tourism destinations. Many of its biodiversity features are closely connected to HNV farming and thus make BiH a perfect destination for developing agro-eco, bird watching and similar types of tourism that can bring benefits to the farmers still maintaining HNV farmland areas.
Well-preserved natural resources and a traditional food culture rank high among the motivational factors for tourist visits. B&H is famous for cheese production (e.g. Vlasic cheese and Livno cheese, a fermented cheese made in a sheep skin or sack). All these products are inseparably connected to the traditional management of HNV farmland, especially mountainous and karst grassland.
Nomadic sheep farming system in B&H may soon be permanently forbidden due to brucellosis. Brucellosis has already caused the authorities to ban this traditional farming practice temporarily and to introduce fines; the only permitted way to move sheep from one region to another is by lorry and all transported animals must have a health certificate. All areas used for grazing must be owned by the herders or leased, proven by a valid contract with the agricultural land-owner and registered by the municipal authorities in charge of agriculture. In practice, this will put an end to traditional nomadic farming, as lot of pastures are commons, or their ownership is unclear. Besides, herders will not be able to cover the additional costs of transportation, lease of land and administration.
On the positive side, efforts are being made to have traditional BiH farm products, especially cheeses, connected to the traditional land management practices and their geographical origin, for sale on the domestic and European market.