Rural life in Bosnia & Herzegovina is definitely very hard and uncertain. There are many reasons for that, but still innovative people manage to live a good life in rural areas of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
During the Ottoman and Austro – Hungarian Empire most of the Bosnian – Herzegovinian people were living in rural areas. The Ottoman times were based on feudal principles or we can say duke – peasant relations. The peasants were working on the land of a duke, or they were free but they needed to pay high taxes. In the Austro – Hungarian Empire things started to change and first of all the feudal system was abolished. Austro – Hungarians started to pay more attention to the mass production. Therefore, they invested in big farms and agricultural holdings. The Franciscan priests brought the manufacture of cheese and beer. Beer production depended on big cereal agricultural holdings. In that way the rural life was appreciated more and people could have a better rural life.
In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia life in general was not good, especially in villages. Main reasons for that were the political instability, old school systems and the latency with industrialisation. One interesting fact is that the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was the main producer of papaver. That is not all because they were producing so much opium out of the papaver, that the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was the main exporter in the world. Can you believe that the opium that was placed on the streets of New York, by Al Capone, was from Yugoslavia. After the opium was banned from legal export, the economy of Yugoslavia collapsed.
In the Socialist Yugoslavia the rural areas were again in a bad position. The rapid industrialisation was leaving the villages empty. The rural population thought that life in urban areas will bring them prosperity and happiness.We can see that the rural life on the Balkans was always hard and unfortunately not so appreciated. In Bosnia & Herzegovina, because of the landscape, the valleys were used for agriculture and the mountains for livestock.
Even in so long time and in so many different governments the rural areas were in a bad position, but still we can find people in villages that are successful with agriculture and farming.
The Bosnian – Herzegovinian government doesn’t appreciate the small volume manufacturers in rural areas. Nevermind it is like that, still we can find people that decided to stay in their villages and run their own agricultural holding, farm, fishpond and others.
A positive example of how it is possible to have a good life and run a good business in a village is Munir Kazagić. Munir Kazagić is from village Kazagići, near the city of Goražde. Before the war in the 90’s Munir had an agricultural holding for vegetables. After the war Munir left Bosnia & Herzegovina and went to the Netherlands. As he says, he learned a lot about flower nursery, while he was working for one agricultural holding in the Netherlands. Munir’s main motto is: “If you don’t like something, then you shouldn’t work with that”.
Munir started the flower nursery backhome as a hobby, but nowadays he is in a serious flower nursery business. He even owns a professional certificate for flower nursery and he always follows the trends through books or the internet. In the “Upper Drina Valley” he is the only one that is doing the flower nursery. As Munir says, he never had any help from the local government and for him that is not a problem. Any kind of help that he would appreciate from the local government is that they buy from him flowers for the seasonal city decoration. Munir just doesn’t like that the local government imports the flowers from God knows where, while they don’t support the local economy.
Nowadays Munir has a greenhouse that is about 200 m² big, where he grows about 15 different flower types. All of his flowers are grown with passion and devotion, therefore they will bring positive vibes to your home. Munir grows flowers like geranium, pansy, velvet, sage, begonia and many others.
In Eastern Bosnia, municipality of Goražde, an agricultural business of the family Hasanspahić left speechless anyone that tried their products. Unfortunately, Bosnia & Herzegovina is losing the rural population in a rapid way. Family Hasanspahić, Melisa and Rizalija, decided to continue the rural life and take what nature offers. About 15 years ago they decided to start their own family agricultural holding, with one greenhouse for wild strawberries. With their will and devotion they proved that still in Bosnia & Herzegovina people can live a good life in rural areas.
S.P.P. “Okusi Prirode” has about 30 different assortments, nevermind are those fresh vegetables or sweet products and ajvar. You can buy sweets out of fruits, jams, ajvar, juices, fresh vegetables, mushrooms in oil and many others.
The Hasanspahić agricultural holding S.P.P. “Okusi Prirode” is a serious business led with passion and devotion. Proof is the fact that even many foreign politicians that are by duty in Bosnia & Herzegovina tried and consumed their products. Former ambassador of the USA in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Patrick Moon, was one of the politicians that often consumed their eco products. S.P.P. “Okusi Prirode” participated in a “Diplomatic Bazar”, they also presented their products in the embassies of the USA and Germany.
If we say that Žepa, a village in the municipality of Rogatica, was a UN safe zone during the 90’s war, this story will be more remarkable. Muhamed Tabaković is the owner of the fisheries “Slap”, he came from Norway back to his village after the war. The main reason that he decided to come back, was the fact that he felt like home only in Žepa. The fisheries “Slap” were founded with the capital and knowledge that Muhamed brought from Norway. Actually, Muhamed got his masters degree in Norway at the “Fishery University”. Muhamed was supported for this kind of a business by his professor who made the research about trout fish in the Balkans.
In 2006. he opened the fisheries “Slap”, at that time the fishery had 8 fish pools. Nowadays the fishery has more then 120 fish pools. At the start the fishery was based only on the domestic market, but today they export even to Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Czech Republic. It was possible because the fishery was always trying to follow high standards. Therefore, the fishery has all the necessary certificates for the export. This is not all, because the fishery also has a factory for fish processing. Today the fisheries “Slap” employs about 30 workers from Rogatica municipality.
Next to the fishery is a motel, made by another returnee like Muhamed. Because of the magnificent landscape and crystal clear Žepa river many people are coming to the “Motel Ćesko”.
The story of “Agrofood” Konjević Polje started in 2009. Since then, the owner Senad Omerović has been doing this job with passion and devotion. Senad Omerović has a pretty much similar life story like almost every other Bosniak from Eastern Bosnia. He is originally from Zvornik and after the free territory of Zvornik fell into the hands of the Bosnian Serbs he ran to Srebrenica. After the fall of Srebrenica, 11. July 1995., Senad Omerović was the leader of his group that tried to escape to Tuzla. Thank God they manage and nowadays Senad runs a very successful agricultural holding. In the post war Bosnia & Herzegovina Senad is a member of two NGO’s, those are ”Prosvijetitelj” and “Proaktiva”. “Prosvjetitelj” is a muslim NGO that is trying to promote moral and working habits among the Bosniaks, while the ultimate goal is to improve the situation of the Bosniaks and Bosnia & Herzegovina generally. “Proaktiva” is an NGO that gathers a network of individuals, conscientious activists from the country and the diaspora. Their main goal is to create and initiate positive changes in society by providing better conditions for the development and success of individuals and local communities. Senad Omerović is definitely a versatile man.
Senad Omerović started this kind of a job as an amateur with just 100 m² of a greenhouse. After which he got the donation from the “Muslim Aid” (Malasyan Embassy). With that donation Senad bought 3 more greenhouses and each one had the size of 350 m². The serious business started with 1000 m², but nowadays Senad managed to develop the production and has 4500 m² of greenhouses. The greenhouses are equipped with necessary tools, extra objects, built – in heating, and machines. “Agrofood” Konjević Polje is producing different vegetables like tomatoes, paprikas, eggplants, pods, cucumbers, watermelons and many others. The agricultural holding “Agrofood” Konjević Polje is also producing seedlings of the mentioned vegetables. The vegetables grown by “Agrofood” Konjević Polje are possible to buy in the “Bosanska Tržnica” Sarajevo and in “Z Marketi” in Bratunac and Zvornik.
Alen Džindo and his wife Meliha Džindo decided to buy a donkey in 2016. because their son had very bad lung problems. Their son was hospitalized and the hospital did all the medical examinations, but they didn’t find anything. Therefore, Alen decided to take his son out of the hospital and treat him with donkey milk. As Alen says he was reading about the donkey milk in many books and that was the main reason to do that step. His wife Meliha decided that they should buy a pregnant donkey, because that is the only time when a donkey gives milk. Donkey milk is very similar to human milk, it has 1 % of milk fat and is very good as an anti allergen.
After 11 days their son was better without any lung problems. That was the main reason to make a donkey farm and start a donkey milk business. At the beginning they had about 10 donkeys and nowadays about 120 of them. As Alen says it is easier to do farming with donkeys then with cows for example. Donkeys don’t need so much investment and they are animals that eat very diverse food on the open. Alen is convinced that the main reason why the milk is so healthy are the things they eat, from the tree bark to flowers. Nowadays he sells 1 l of donkey milk for 100 KM (50 €), and as he always says if someone is ill and doesn’t have money he will give it for free. That honesty and passion in business are still important, proves the fact that Alen and Meliha are selling their milk to Austria, Italy, Sweden and even to the USA.
In the amazing village of Strgačina, municipality of Rudo, lives a family by the surname Svraka and they are one of the best beekeepers in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Their honey even won the first prize at the beekeeping fair in Sarajevo, for the best meadow honey in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Armin started the beekeeping job when he was just 14 years old, now he finished the criminology faculty and still is in the beekeeping business. As Armin said, the love he got towards the bees came from his father Kemal. Interesting story is that Armin understood the bees much better through the strategy PC games. Sounds weird? Yes, on the first hand it is, but let us explain. Through strategy games, outsmarting virtual opponents, and collaborating with allies in games, he realized how bee societies work. Armin realized that bees are organized in a similar way as a strategy game: you have thousands of your soldiers, you manage them, you try to find a way to make them better and more efficient.
He is a stationary beekeeper and as he says he is keeping the bees in the complete eco friendly environment where human foot is not often visible. He is producing two types of honey, the meadow and forest type. The family Svraka is especially proud of the forest honey that was awarded with the first prize at the beekeeping fair.
The young beekeeper is saying that people nowadays are rushing during the honey production and that people are making synthesized hives. As he says, those are two crucial mistakes that the modern beekeepers are making. Other important moves are not to take the first honey from the bees, because honey is irreplaceable with sugar. Do not act like a bee engineer because the bees know the best way to make the interior of a bee hive.
Those are crucial moves that you need to follow for an eco honey that has the best taste. The honey from the family Svraka is possible to buy in Sarajevo. There is a huge chance that if you try their honey you will finally feel the real taste of honey.