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news 14 Aug 15

Heat Wave Spells Disaster for Bosnia's Farmers

Prolonged heat has caused a drought that has inflicted serious damage on Bosnian agriculture - and farmers fear a worse catastrophe in autumn and winter.

Srecko Latal

After two months of record-high temperatures and almost no rain, farmers across Bosnia report that crops, fruits and vegetables are withering away while cattle are losing weight and producing less milk.

The heat wave has also caused frequent fires, which have inflicted additional damage in several areas across Bosnia.

The total cost of the weather-related damage is already estimated to be some 250 million euro - but some farmers and experts warn that the problems could get worse.

Reduced production of corn and collection of hay means farmers will not have enough feed to sustain their livestock through the winter and will either have to import the feed or sell some of their cattle.

"This year will be extremely difficult. After five bad years, this is the sixth in the row. In 2010 we had floods, than three dry years, then we had floods last year and again drought this year," the president of the Association of famers in Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, Vladimir Usorac, said.

The head of the association of farmers in Tuzla canton, Mevludin Ikanovic, on Thursday said that because of the extreme weather conditions, his organization was considering asking the local government to declare a state of natural disaster.

Ikanovic complained that governments at different administrative levels in Bosnia lagged far behind the governments in the rest of the region when it comes to protecting farmers.

The drought has affected other aspects of life in Bosnia, triggering numerous forest fires that have been raging on and off in several different parts of the country.

This situation has also forced most urban areas to impose water reductions to ensure that all population has equal access to drinking water.

The situation was most difficult in the town of Bosanski Petrovac, in western Bosnia, where the town authorities and the civil defence department on Thursday declared a state of natural disaster after the level of water in wells dropped to the point where even the minimal supply of drinking water was threatened.

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