RURAL ECONOMY DIVERSIFICATION IN SERBIA PUBLISHEDMarina M. Miljkovic, Hamid El Bilali, Sinisa Berjan
Since agriculture can’t create enough job opportunities many rural dwellers rely on non-farming incomes. Evidences from many European countries show that non-agricultural economy influences greatly rural areas economic growth thus improving rural population working and living conditions. Serbian rural areas negligence determines a considerable delay in the structural adaptation to EU standards. The aim of this work is to present basic indicators on the level of rural economy diversification, to identify and explain the changes happening in the rural areas during the transition process with a special focus on how and why rural operators diversify their activities and to present some measures and actions undertaken to stop the negative tendencies and to revitalize rural territories in Serbia. Recent data from The Serbian Bureau of Statistics as well from the specialized national and international literature have been used. The achieved level of diversification was assessed by analyzing the labour force market and the income sources. Results explicitly show that sources of income and livelihoods diversification is an integral part of the business strategies of most rural households. Serbia has significant potentialities and strengths for rural economy diversification but they are not properly used. In fact, most of rural labour force is still engaged in agriculture (about 47%). Since agriculture is, in many Serbian areas, lowly productive and potential for its intensification is limited and/or can be environmentally degrading, living conditions improvement can be achieved only through households livelihoods diversification. Diversity of Serbian rural areas potentialities and contexts means that rural development strategies design and implementation should be tuned to their specificities. Therefore, collaboration of the public, civil and private sectors on the local, national and regional level is highly required and the participation of the local communities is a must. A more dynamic rural economy is not possible without valorising all available potentials and assets. This multifaceted research is based on a set of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) indicators using easily accessible yet objectively verifiable and high quality input data. It can be easily used by decision makers, scientists and development practitioners to monitor the level of economy diversification in Serbian rural areas and to compare it with performances in other European countries in order to achieve a better tuning of rural development policies. Limitations of this kind of research are due to the lack of an adequate statistical base.
diversification; income; activities; rural development; agriculture; Serbia