Friday, March 29, 2013

Impressions of the project

Mr. Gvozden Dzelatovic is a mechanical engineer who owns a very successful private company in Jagodina. He planted blueberries a few years ago because he realized that it would be a great way to make a steady income and he could leave the business to his children one day. This is what he told us:
            „My story of growing blueberries started with a lecture in Belanovica, near Arandjelovac. It was held by Mr. Richard A. Dale, a blueberry grower from Wisconsin, USA. The presentation was organized by USAID and Serbia Agribusiness project.

After finishing the work on blueberry plantation on the area of 35 ares, I started to think about spreading the story on blueberry growing at the territory of the Jagodina municipality. I shared my thoughts with the director of the Jagodina library, Mrs. Vesna Crnkovic and she told me that there is a project- AgroLib Ja within this institution that brought together agricultural producers and those who intended to engage in agricultural production. After a short discussion, we concluded that the presentation on blueberry growing would be a good starting point for our further work and we scheduled three lectures. Since the Jagodina library made a good media preparation, the lectures were very well visited although the weather was very bad (it was snowing hard). The participants asked very serious questions at the presentation because they were fruit growers and were familiar with both good and bad sides of fruit growing in our area. Numerous questions and comments after the lecture showed that there was a considerable interest in blueberries growing in Jagodina.

            At one of the presentations, while I was explaining to the audience that insects attacked the blueberry flowers, one of the participants asked what the way to neutralize these insects was. I gave vague answers and then thought that I could answer specifically through my own example. However, the person that asked me the question actually gave the answer to it. It was then that I realized that the audience listened to my presentation very carefully and that they had extensive knowledge in this agricultural field. Since the agricultural lectures in the town and the village libraries were highly visited, I realized how much trust these people, excellent farmers, had in the choice of topics and experts that the project team hired.

Some of my friends tried to organize something similar, and they experienced a debacle, because there were only a few farmers interested and I became aware of the words by the director Vesna Crnkovic who told me the previous day how much time and effort the project team needed to gain the confidence of farmers. In fact, our state-Serbia made a lot of mistakes regarding farmers which led to mistrust, even resistance to government institutions. Such a large number of farmers respond only to someone who understends their needs, who offers quality and has never let them down.

            After the first round of presentations we decided to organize two more, and then we invited Mr. Ivan Djuknic from Belanovica, Arandjelovac- a pioneer in blueberries growing in Serbia. Just like the first three, these presentations were very-well visited and there were a lot of questions. Mr. Djuknic was pleasantly surprised by the interest of the people in our region in blueberries growing and suggested to start a branch of the Cooperative Prima Borovnica from Belanovica here in Jagodina. This idea was accepted and now we are in the process of registration of the branch in Jagodina. We hope that the registration will be finished in a month or two and then we will have a presentation on a plantation near Jagodina. In consultation with the director Vesna Crknovic, the lecture in the field could be realized in May when blueberries bloom.

            After the presentation, I had several meetings with people interested in planting blueberries. I am sure that we will have new plants next autumn at the Jagodina municipality and I look forward to it.

            I want to say that the Jagodina Library project AgroLib Ja left a strong impression on me, and also the project team which with open heart and with great care and respect helps farmers get right information at the right time. I would like to see this project implemented in other parts of Serbia because it is very useful. I plan to continue to cooperate and promote the AgroLib Ja project”, concludes his story a blueberry grower from Jagodina, Mr. Gvozden Dzelatovic.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Big challenge, but great experience

Mrs Ivana, our chief project coordinator

Mrs Ivana Pesic is graduate engineer in agriculture and she works as a librarian at the Department for the development and improvement of library - information work. She has been engaged in the AgroLib Project since 2011.
Being a graduate engineer in agriculture, in the beginning she was responsible for suggesting lecture topics for farmers and lecturers, and now she is the chief project coordinator responsible for proposing lecturers, lecture schedules, advertising through the media-radio and television.
Very successful lecture on blueberries
„Work on the project is a great experience for me. This is the third year of the AgroLib Ja project implementation and I can say it is the best one. The AgroLib team has upgraded the project this year and raised it to a higher level. Each team member has their own duties and responsibilities for completing tasks. Despite having a clear concept and plan of project activities, we often solved problems and difficulties in the field, and by doing this we also improved project activities. For a successful implementation of such a big project, activities, work in a team and learn in the field.
Addressing people's needs- our project's key to success
This year (I mean the project activities we carried out this winter, because the AgroLib Ja project is most active when farmers do not have much work on their fields and that is the winter period), on five ICT trainings there were 27 farmers, and on seven agricultural lectures there were 402 participants. The website from the beginning of the year until 22nd March 2013 had 16.559 visits, which is about 10% more than lthe same time, last year.
 I am very happy when website users or farmers ask me for some sort of assistance. The most striking are two stories I will mention here and which show good organization of project team members.
Mrs Slavica, a teacher in a kindergarten in Jagodina, or a beekeeper-beginner, asked for help on one occasion: „I heard that you have beekeeping literature in your library. “ She wanted a book that we have only at the Bagrdan Library. After a few days, the librarian from Bagrdan brought me the book. Mrs Slavica was very satisfied. And we from the project team were even more satisfied because the book helped here solve a problem with bees breeding.
Busy lectures, satisfied participants
After the lecture on blueberries, I told the audience that if they had suggestions for the next lecture, I would like to hear them. Mr Vlastimir Mladenovic, a member of Pomoravlje beekeeping association that we have been cooperating with for two years approached me and said that the members of his association at one of the meetings talked about the problems and dilemmas they had in their work and suggested me a few topics and lecturers they discussed at the meeting. The lecture was held at the library 7 days later and was well-attended and very constructive.
Mr Vlastimir Mladenovic, as a sign of gratitude, wrote a short text on the lecture at the library and thanked the library and the project AgroLib Ja for cooperation. His piece of writing was published in a weekly newspaper Novi Put  . By the way, Novi Put is the paper covering the regions of Pomoravlje, Resava and Levac.
“Work on the AgroLib Ja project is a big challenge, but a great experience for all of us“, concludes her story Ivana Pesic.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Another ICT training story from different angle

The ICT teacher in the Glavinci and Bunar libraries was Mr Bojan Novcic, the AgroLib Ja project contributor. Bojan developed unique authorized method of quick and easy mastering information technologies that he presented to the trainees.
Mr Novcic, the ICT teacher, and his trainees at the Bunar library
„They were total beginners and didn’t even know how to turn on the computer, they were afraid of the unknown and thought that they would never learn how to use computers“, says Bojan.
When the training started, Bojan broke their fears and insecurity and assured them that with a little will, after only 4 days, they would know things that people learned for 3 or 4 months somewhere else.
Mr Milanovic- learned computer skills and now is better than his wife
After four days of learning, they made their own profiles on "agrolib market" , visited sites on different agricultural branches, used the knowledge from previous days and used computers with no major problems just like any other user.
Bojan says: „ Mr Dragan Milanović from Kolare, who is engaged in vegetable growing, told me at the beginning of the lecture that he was always annoyed with the fact that his wife knew how to use ICT and he didn't. He was very hard-working and stayed after the lectures until library closing hours to practice. It was seen that he was motivated to learn. When I was saying goodbye to the trainees at the end of our training, he approached me and said that he was showing to his wife how to download a document. He thanked me for my patience and dedication at the training. „Now I am better than her“, he boasted with a smile.

Mrs Prokic- satisfied librarian
Mr Gvozdenovic-a plant collector
Mrs Biljana Prokic, a librarian at the Bunar library said: „As a librarian, I am completely satisfied with all AgroLib Ja project activities and free computer trainings. Most people who attended ICT trainings don't have computers at home and everything is unknown to them at the beginning-from turning on a computer to sending e-mails, browsing, etc. Since the teacher had a lot of patience and understanding for them as beginners all the time, the trainees were very attentive and interested in what he had to say and they learned a lot. They got booklets with explanations, adapted to their level of knowledge how to use Internet for agriculture and that was very significant for them.

Mr Sasa Gvozdenovic told me after the training ended: “AgorLib is great because I can find people who make and sell products I am interested in. That's why I became AgroLib member. I am a plant collector and I am expecting to hear from people who are interested in the same thing so we can cooperate and expand our business. “
The librarian said once more that the trainees were completely satisfied with the training. „As a librarian I would like to say thanks on my behalf and on behalf of trainees for free computer training“, says Biljana.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The story from another angle-the angle of the ICT trainer

Here is what Miss Jelena Dimintrijevic, one of the two ICT trainers, told us about the training in Jagodina and Glavinci

 Computer trainings are intended for the older population in our municipality and the Jagodina library has been implementing it for a year. This time, within the AgroLib Ja project, the trainings are for farmers with the aim to give them opportunity to understand what kind of benefits computers and Internet have.

In the village of Glavinci the course started on 18th February and according to the number of farmers on the very first day, we could tell that their interest was great. Despite the errands they had at home or despite bad weather, they came to the library and in a small room with only 3 computers, they were eager to hear what were the first steps to take in order to enter the ICT world.

There were not a lot of steps from starting and shutting down a computer, opening icons to going on the Internet and browsing. You could tell by the notepads they brought and how they were writing down everything they heard that they were attentive and diligent. The new terms they wrote down in their notepads, became a part of their communication after a couple of days. How amused they were with the speed of the e-mail travelling to the person sitting at a computer next to them.

They wanted to learn in the first place how to read the latest announcements and information on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and similar sites, which offer information on laws, regulations, rules and subsidies.  

In that group, the youngest trainee was 53 years old and he was engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture, while the oldest one was 72 years old and he was a beekeeper. Mr Dusan (72) was always first at the training. He wanted to have some time to revise before the rest of the group comes. As the librarian told us, he would sit in the library after the training each day, sometimes untill 10pm just to revise the things they learned. By Friday and our last training, he had already known all websites regarding beekeeping and how to copy things and save them in his computer.
Mr Dusan, the oldest but a fast learner

It was a nice five-day experience at the Glavinci library.

The computer training in the Jagodina Library started on 25th February and there were 5 farmers.  All of them live in villages near the town and they have inherited land from their grandfathers and fathers, as well as the knowledge how to cultivate it. They are aware if the fact that without improvement of their work, they are losing the battle with other farmers, their neighbors, etc.

Mr Vladan Ljubisavljevic said that he was in trouble when some pests attacked his orchard last year. He learned from his neighbor that he would have to buy a certain product that couldn’t be found in our town. His son helped him find the general importer of that product for Serbia and ordered the products directly from him. Thanks to the Internet and the information he found there, his crop last year was excellent.
“I realized then that I have to sit at a computer and learn how to use it. My children don't have enough time and patience to teach me how to use it”, says Vladan with a smile.
Mr Ljubisavljevic, found a website about blueberries

After a couple of days at the training in the library, he had managed to learn basis of IT, how to find information he needed, or how to advertise his produce on the Agrolib marketplace. Now, his AgroLib profile has a lot of information about and pictures of his produce. After the lecture on blueberries, he decided to plant this fruit and to update his profile with latest pictures.

Mr Ivica Milosevic, one of the trainees, was interested in selling his agricultural tools and how to buy better and more modern tools.
Mr  Milosevic, looking for agricultural machinery

,, I have visited the agriculture fair and the machinery is so much improved. I don't have money for new tools, but I can find whatever I need on the Internet. Second-hand, but at a price much more affordable. I know there are sites on the Internet selling tools, and now I can find them by myself. I have already seen a few advertisements and I will call tomorrow to see what kind of tools they are selling. “

For most learners, agriculture is not the only occupation they have, some of them are employed and work in the town, but they have a few years to retirement and their interest in new information is much higher because they have more free time. Now, they are planning to devote themselves to land cultivation and cattle breeding and to improving and modernizing their work.  That's why they have decided to attend the course. After a five-day training, they are ready to use computers without any assistance, and in the booklet they have there are numerous agricultural websites they can visit from their computers at home.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Continuing computer training

      After three cycles of computer training for farmers in the Pomoravlje district, within the AgroLib Ja project, in cooperation with the Bunar library, the fourth round of computer training for farmers started on 11 March 2013.
      Five farmers, just like the learners before them got booklets about computer skills adapted to their level of knowledge. The trainer Bojan Novcic is teaching them how to work in Windows, open and send e-mails, download and edit pictures, use Google search engine. Furthermore, they will get familiar with agricultural websites, as well as the website of Serbian Ministry of Agriculture. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Closing lecture

Mr Veroljub Umeljic, the lecturer, published 6 books about bekeeping, more than  50 papers for bekeeping journals and  held more than 200 lectures
The Jagodina Library organized a closing lecture  Wintering, spring development, preparation for main bee pasture, swarming and care of bees on 8th March 2013 for bekeepers in the Bagrdan Library and the Jagodina Library.

At the Jagodina Library-packed with people

The topic was very popular for this time of year and the number of beekeepers attending the lecture showed great interest in it. The reading-room of the Jagodina Library was full of people and there were no empty seats at all. We were satisfied with the number of people. The beekeepers were satisfied because, as they said, the lecture was  excellent, useful and interesting even to those who were beginners in beekeeping. The lecturer shared very generously all his experiences with the audience, giving them advice and answering to numerous questions.

New things they could hear at the lecture were how to form bee swarms, nurture and suppress uncontrolled swarming, what the new ways of packaging and transportation of bees were,etc.

At the Bagrdan Library

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The lecture on beekeeping

The Jagodina Public Library  organizes  a new agricultural lecture within the AgroLib Ja project on Friday, 8th March 2013. The lecture is about beekeeping:

„ Wintering, spring development, preparation for main bee pasture, swarming and care of bees“
The schedule of the lectures:
·        At 2pm  in the Bagrdan Library
·        At 5.30pm at the reading room in the Jagodina library

The lecturer is Veroljub Umeljic, a longtime beekeeper and member of Serbian beekeeping association.

Just to remind us: The beekeeping association from Bagrdan hadn’t been registered until they met the representative of the Agency for small and medium enterprises and registered households at one of lectures at the Bagrdan library.
Also, they met the local government representative who organized their first-time visit to the Beekeeping fair in Belgrade.

At the Beekeeping fair

See this:

New cooperation in the offing

          Inel Ltd-a company for foreign and domestic trade and manufacturing from Zemun, Serbia got in touch with the members of the AgroLib Ja tem. The manager of the company said that he visited regularly and that he was pleasantly surprised to find profiles of quince-growers in the database.
          He was interested to get in touch with the producers and purchase entire quince crops from those registered on Agrolib online marketplace. The company will export quince to Saudi Arabia.
          We are looking forward to seeing the progress of cooperation between the Inel Company and the quince producers!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fast-growing trees-Paulownia

     The lecture on a fast-growing tree, native to China, caused great interest of farmers. In packed library halls in Bunar and Bagrdan and the hall of the Jagodina library, Mr Rade Damjanovic from Jagodina, Bachelor of Science in Horticulture, talked about Paulownia which has great potential use and earnings for growers. The lectures were held on Friday, 1 March in the Bunar library and on Saturday, 2 March in the Jagodina and Bagrdan libraries.

What is Paulownia?

   It is a deciduous tree, native to China, which is characterized by extremely rapid growth, quality timber, huge leaves and beautiful flowers and is 100% useful. The leaf grows to 70 cm in diameter, and the tree itself up to 20m. The flower has the shape of grapes, pink to purple, with lovely smell.

   The aim of the lectures in the town and village libraries is to have experts talking about the business opportunities in agriculture as well as best practices of successful farmers, so that all those who would engage in certain branches of agriculture in the future obtain accurate information and good advice.Also, our intention is for farmers who are engaged in the same branch of agriculture to meet in the library for further cooperation and forming beneficial associations.

By the way, Mr Rade Damjanovic has been the contributor to the project AgroLib Ja for a couple of years. The project helped him start the business of growing quince two years ago. See his story.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Milk safety lecture

The topic of sanitary quality of milk and dairy products was discussed at the lecture held on 27 February 2013. at the packed hall of the Glogovac library. 

The lecturer was Ms Svetlana Ivanovic, environmental engineer. The topic sparked great interest of present farmers from Glogovac and surrounding villages.

During the lecture, the following important facts were presented:
• The facility cleaning should be done at least 1 hour before milking.
• Washing cows should be done between the two milkings.
• When a cow is being milked, it must be still, and noise should not be made at the barn.
• Before milking, a cow’s tail should be linked to the tail, and a person milking the cow should wear work clothes and wash hands in a special disinfectant!!!
• The first jets of milk are to be milked on the black surface or into a separate container.
• If you notice any changes, call a vet
• The first jets of milk are never to be milked onto the floor of the barn or hands.