High-quality, GMO-free soya from the Danube region

Project description

Title: High-quality, GMO-free soya from the Danube region (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina; Serbia
Lead executing agencies: Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations (MoFTER); Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Republika Srpska (MAFWM); Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry of the Federation (MAWMF); Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republic of Serbia (MAFWM)
Overall term: 2014 to 2017

Serbia. Soya harvest in Vojvodina province. © GIZ


Soya has become a central issue for European agriculture and the animal-feed and food-production industries. To compensate for the protein shortfall in animal feeds, the European Union imports around 23 million tonnes of soya bean meal and 12.5 million tonnes of soya beans, mainly from South America. At least two-thirds of these imports consist of genetically modified soya, with the known negative environmental and social consequences this entails. For this reason, obtaining soya from the countries where it is conventionally grown has largely become unpopular with the European manufacturing industry and consumers.

The Danube Soya Initiative (DSI) promotes the cultivation and certification of GMO-free soya in the Danube region in line with set quality standards. In 2013 the agricultural ministers of Croatia, Austria, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, Switzerland, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and also Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg signed the Danube Soya Declaration, confirming their intention to promote the cultivation and marketing of high-quality, GMO-free soya in their countries.

Currently, 0.6 million hectares of soya are cultivated in the Danube region. According to estimates, this could rise to between 1.5 and 2.2 million hectares by 2018. With 190,000 hectares, Serbia is the most important grower of GMO-free soya. Up to now, only about 5,000 hectares of land has been given over to soya cultivation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This country has yet to develop its capacity. Both countries face the challenge of improving their competitiveness in agriculture and in the related upstream and downstream sectors to take full advantage of the opportunities for sustainable economic development presented by the programme.


In selected parts of the Danube region in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, there is greater capacity for economically sustainable, environmentally friendly and socially responsible production of GMO-free soya.

Serbia. Soya field in Vojvodina province. © GIZ


The project’s aim is to use the participation of both these countries in the Danube Soya Initiative (DSI) and their commitment to the Danube soya quality programme as a lever to increase the competitiveness of their agricultural economies. The increased cooperation of non-EU Eastern European countries with EU Member States in the DSI gives both these countries access to innovations originating from neighbouring countries.

The project pursues a multi-level approach:

  • At the political level, the consultation is focusing on developing a regionally harmonised labelling and traceability system for GMO-free products. In addition, assistance is being provided in creating appropriate incentive and support schemes.
  • Selected research institutes are receiving assistance in implementing applied research in soya cultivation and improving their networking with international cooperation partners. A network of demonstration farms is being set up to find solutions to existing soya cultivation problems, identify sustainable growing practices, educate participating farmers and bring unresolved issues to the attention of the research network. The project supports agricultural consultancy services in the practical use of research findings and in advising participating farmers.
  • A competitive ‘GMO-Free Quality Soya’ production line is being set up. A centre of excellence in Novi Sad will pool and disseminate production know-how and will be responsible for planning, setting up and monitoring the network of demonstration farms. Production companies, in particular small and medium-sized businesses, are using project information and training to increase their competence in soya cultivation. The project supports the establishment of long-term, sustainable business relationships between European, in particular German, commercial enterprises and suitable producers in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Further information