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Minister Židan on mutual cooperation at a meeting with agricultural organisations operating in neighbouring countries

Gorski Kotar, 27 September 2017 – At the invitation of the Agricultural Education Community in Gorski Kotar in Croatia, Minister Dejan Židan attended a working meeting with representatives of the community. Within the AGRASLOMAK coordination, the Minister also met representatives of Slovenian agricultural organisations operating in the neighbouring countries of Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, with whom he exchanged information on topical issues in agriculture in Slovenia and the neighbouring countries. In the afternoon, the Minister visited the Slovenian company Lož Metalpres in Plešce, which is important for providing jobs for local residents.

As noted by the Minister, the recognition of the need and desire to connect all four Slovenian agricultural areas in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia resulted in the establishment of the AGRASLOMAK coordination five years ago. According to Minister Židan, the establishment of the coordination enabled mutual integration, person-to-person contacts, and in particular, learning about the reality of conditions in the environments in which individual Slovenian communities live. “The world in which a Slovenian in the Raba Region lives is completely different from the world in which a Slovenian in the Trieste Region, the Austrian Carinthia, or Gorski Kotar in Croatia lives. With the meetings taking place in a different country every time and learning about different situations, also came a realisation about how, and in what conditions, each Slovenian national community lives in a certain country. These connections, joint meetings and activities at important events create an atmosphere of belonging, equivalence and certainty in the solidity of national existence.”

 

At the meeting of the AGRASLOMAK coordination, the representatives of Slovenian agricultural organisations from Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia presented to the Minister the functioning of the coordination in 2017. An important aspect of activities was the marking of the fifth anniversary of the AGRASLOMAK coordination. A special celebration was organised on this occasion in May during the exhibition, Delicacies of Slovenian Farms, in Ptuj. Also, a brochure about AGRASLOMAK and all four agricultural organisations was published. All four organisations also actively participated at the exhibition, Delicacies of Slovenian Farms, and at the 17th Meeting of Slovenians Living Abroad at the National Assembly in July entitled 'I Am a Slovenian'. The representatives of all four organisations received special attention from the Slovenian political leaders. They met both line ministers, i.e. the Minister of Agriculture, Dejan Židan, and the Minister for Slovenians Abroad, Gorazd Žmavc, at the Agra Fair in Gornja Radgona. Agricultural organisations of Slovenians living in the neighbouring countries will also participate in the promotion of tourist farms in Slovenia and neighbouring countries under the title, 'Tourist farms without borders', at this year’s Barcolana regatta in Trieste. 

 

The participants exchanged topical information with the Minister about agriculture in Slovenia and the neighbouring countries. Minister Židan highlighted that we strongly support Slovenian agricultural organisations from Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, which are represented in the AGROSLOMAK coordination. “Today, we are visiting Gorski Kotar, whose agricultural education community was established in December 2013. Since its beginnings, the farmers here have been educated and trained by the Ljubljana Agriculture and Forestry Institute in the fields of livestock production, fruit and vegetable cultivation and bee-keeping. A mountain garden was formed in 2015, then a greenhouse in Prezid was built (which encouraged the construction of six new greenhouses) and this year an educational bee-keeping trail was arranged. And now, a model farm project is about to commence. Zoran Ožbolt is the President of Gorski Kotar Agricultural Education Community and I thank him for his selflessness and the energy he puts into common good,” said Minister Židan.

 

In the afternoon, the Minister visited a Slovenian company, Lož Metalpres d.o.o., which was established in 1992 in Plešce in Croatia. The company employs 70 people from the local area, and as one of few companies in Gorski Kotar, is an important source of jobs for local residents. The company makes various products from plastic and sheet metal, and in addition to selling its products in the domestic Croatian market, also exports to Slovenia, Italy, Austria and Germany.

 

AGRASLOMAK is a coordination of Slovenian agricultural organisations from all four neighbouring countries. The idea to establish joint coordination came about in March 2012 during a meeting of representatives of these organisations with the then agricultural minister. The founding charter of the AGRASLOMAK coordination was signed on 17 May 2012 in Ptuj at the opening of the exhibition, Delicacies of Slovenian Farms, in order to coordinate activities of Slovenians living in the neighbouring countries. The purpose and objective of the AGRASLOMAK’s operations include mutual integration, cooperation, and exchanging information, know-how and good practice in the field of agriculture and rural development between Slovenian agricultural organisations in all four neighbouring countries. Coordination representatives meet at least twice a year, each time at a different Slovenian agricultural organisation.

 

With its regular activity in agriculture, Gorski Kotar Agricultural Education Community is successful in connecting the Slovenian minority community in Gorski Kotar, and is becoming an important factor in the formation of Slovenian national consciousness. Within the framework of annual educational and training programmes in the fields of livestock production, fruit cultivation and supplementary activities, a so-called mountain garden was created in Prezid in Croatia. A greenhouse for vegetable cultivation was also set up last year, which is important for this area, which has very short growing periods due to its harsh climate. During the visit, the Minister was informed about the activities of the Agricultural Education Community and particularly the results of farmers’ education and training in Gorski Kotar in 2016 and 2017.