Bosnia – Agriculture

A rational and well-mechanised farm

Project environment

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a deeply divided and fractured country. Three brutal wars, in the last century alone, have inflicted heavy hardships on its population. Despite great potential and promising opportunities, many people lack perspective and hope. Progress is visible only in a few areas. Shopping malls and new buildings are shooting up in some urban centres and the road network is being renovated and extended throughout the country. There are jobs and local production, but the working conditions and wages are largely unfair and hardly allow employees to build their own livelihoods with good prospects. Although superficially there are some positive changes in the country, most people hardly find a way to earn a regular, fair and stable income. Anyone who can afford it, leaves the country looking for work in Western Europe.

Agricultural project in Fojnica

It is difficult to train in Bosnia where the unemployment rate is 50 %. It is a huge challenge to get a job because of the great corruption and exploitation of job-seekers. Some employers require up to a year’s salary as a starting price to grant a position of employment. Imagine: the employee pays the employer to get his job! To stand up to this injustice, to trust the neighbours and gain their confidence, is the objective of the agricultural project of Walter Koffler and his team. This project has been supported by PartnerAid for many years.

Together, over the past 19 years, they have been able to build a rational and well-mechanised farm in the style of Western Europe. With 15 hectares of rented land, a barn for 10 cows, a few heifers for rearing and bulls for fattening, they are now able to finance the farm’s budget to a large extent.

Many colleagues in the region can benefit from the modern farming know-how and farm machinery. Day-labourers find, sporadically, an opportunity to earn an income. Overall, the project is a jewel in the rather dull and short-sighted economic context.

As for visions: Walter Koffler’s team would not want to rest on its laurels. For some time, they have been wishing to implement a new idea. Next to their farm, a fairly large plot of land is for sale. It would be particularly suitable for establishing a craft centre where young people could be trained, in a kind of apprenticeship or “school of life”, in an appropriate occupation to prepare themselves for (professional) life. For this, we would need collaborators with faith in the future of Bosnia and with a variety of professional qualifications. Who could imagine investing in young people and participating practically in the construction of this innovation park?

Martin Gurtner-Duperrex

Managing Director

"I am convinced that small, manageable development projects and personal relationships on the ground serve the people in need better in the long term than large-scale projects.”