Ulcinj has excellent conditions for the marketing of agricultural and traditional products and the local self-government should more than ever focus on creating conditions for the development of domestic production, it was said at the conference of the Center for the Protection and Study of Birds (CZIP) and Dr. Martin Schneider-Jacoby Association (MSJA).
The conference was organized within the Foodnected project for the pilot location Ulcinj.
CZIP project coordinator, Zoran Popović , said that Foodnected is a project guided by the vision of gathering producers and consumers through a Community of Practice based on common values.
“By shortening the distance between producers and consumers and developing a code of ethics of ecological and social values for the way food is produced and consumed, the project addressed the shortcomings of the prevailing market system and reversed the unfair situation faced by small producers”, Popović said.
He noted that through Foodnected, efforts were made to facilitate the emergence of short-chain food systems that work for nature and people – both for consumers and for small producers who depend on them.
The executive director of MSJA, Zenepa Lika , said that the fact that they got involved in the project is because Ulcinj has huge potential.
“We think it’s time to turn to nature in Ulcinj and good things from nature, which will benefit that municipality as a tourist destination”, said Lika.
She mentioned, among other things, that as part of the project, they worked out a strategic plan for sustainable development for the municipality of Ulcinj, but that success depends on how connected they are and how well they communicate with each other.
She mentioned that Foodnected is based on the protection of landscapes, spaces, and indigenous species.
“The goal is to encourage local producers to focus on goods from their place and connect different stakeholders.” The goal is to connect and focus on quality, not quantity”, concluded Lika.
After the presentation of the Foodnected project, the participants discussed the implementation of the Strategic Plan and the future of the Slow Food concept in the Ulcinj area.
Sabina Ramović, SlowFood Montenegro – Bjelasica, Komovi and Prokletije, explained that SlowFood was created in 1986 as a sign of protest at the opening of McDonald’s, and only three years later it became a global project by signing the manifesto in Paris.
“I hope that there will soon be a Slowfood community in Ulcinj and that the project in Montenegro will gain a larger scale”, said Ramović.
She noted that members can be small producers, restaurant owners, and even individual natural persons engaged in production in a traditional way.
“What is very important is that consumers and producers must go hand in hand, because they cannot be divided. That’s why consumers are very important to us, because we want to raise their awareness of how important the choice of food is for preserving the environment and for the local economy”, said Ramović.
According to her, one of their slogans is that everyone has equal access to healthy and good food.
“That’s why we are very pleased that we have the opportunity to expand SlowFood in the territory of Ulcinj, to transfer our knowledge and experience and to keep this strategic document for us as well,” concluded Ramović.
The head of the Directorate for Quality Schemes, Organic Production and Land Policy – Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Merisa Mekić, noted that Ulcinj is suitable primarily because of its geographical location, because there is already a developed tourism there that has a mechanism for marketing agricultural and traditional products.
“If we analyze Ulcinj in relation to other local governments, then we see that this municipality has good potential, a short market chain, a relatively preserved nature, and the legal acquis at the current level is largely in line with the concepts of the European Union”, said Mekić.
According to her, the big weaknesses are the disinterest of producers and consumers and the close following of tradition, in order to preserve something.
“You shouldn’t go to extremes when it comes to tradition, because some steps need to be accelerated, refreshed, and I’m sure that in that case the tradition will not be lost.” It’s just important to find that thread between tradition and change”, explained Mekić.
She mentioned, among other things, that there is also a lack of data on production and sales, as well as insufficient use of financial resources to improve production.
“Somewhere you will see pizzas and hamburgers in the first offer, and our traditional products in the home versions.” This means that we should turn everything around and promote local self-government with its tradition and its knowledge. The goal is as little fast food as possible and serving products that have become “seen” and are not specific”, Mekić concluded.
Director of the Ulcinj Tourist Organization, Ćazim Hodžić, said that now tourists do not only want to spend time at the sea, but also in rural areas.
“Ulcinj is known for its sea and beaches, but a serious tourist cannot only be on the beach, he must see all the beauty and nature of Ulcinj”, said Hodžić.
That is why, as he said, they support the Foodnected project, which will allow tourists to see the wider picture of Ulcinj.
The Foodnected project, implemented in Montenegro by the Center for the Protection and Study of Birds (CZIP) and Dr. Martin Schneider-Jacoby Association (MSJA), in collaboration with partners Slow Food, Global Footprint Network, GOB Menorca, Low Impact Fishers of Europe, Alliance for Mediterranean Nature and Culture and Yolda. The Foodnected project is supported by the MAVA Foundation, local media writes.