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Agriculture and horticulture Bosnia and Herzegovina

Agriculture and horticulture in numbers


Agriculture accounts for only a small part of gross domestic production (GDP) in Europe, and it is considered that the overall vulnerability of the European economy to changes that affect agriculture is low (1). However, agriculture is much more important in terms of area occupied (farmland and forest land cover approximately 90 % of the EU's land surface), and rural population and income (2).

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Fertile lowlands comprise 16% of agricultural land in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 62% is less fertile hilly and mountainous areas, while the Mediterranean area accounts for 22%. Only 0.65% of the area suitable for agriculture is irrigated; this small percentage is due to an undeveloped irrigation infrastructure (11).

  • The highest-quality soils are to be found in the valleys of the rivers Sava, Una, Sana, Vrbas, Bosna and Drina. These valleys are suitable for the sustainable production of cereal crops (wheat, barley, soybeans, corn); the breeding of cattle in barns; and the large-scale growing of fruits (apples, plums, pears), vegetables, medicinal herbs and industrial crops (12).
  • In the highlands of Bosnia and Herzegovina there is agricultural land suitable for cattle breeding and complementary agricultural production, the production of crops for human consumption, animal feed production, the production of barley for breweries and potato growing (13).
  • Agricultural land in the Mediterranean region covers the territory of the southern Dinaric Alps and the lowlands of the Herzegovina region. This land is potentially suitable for intensive greenhouse and open-space agricultural farming, vine growing, the large-scale growing of citrus fruits and vegetables, freshwater fish farming and
  • beekeeping (13).

Vulnerabilities Bosnia and Herzegovina

Regional analysis indicates the following general impacts on the agriculture sector in south-eastern Europe, including Bosnia and Herzegovina (9):

  • Increasing temperatures will promote the development rate of all winter crops such as wheat, which therefore might face extreme events and a higher intra-annual variability of minimum temperatures-yielding a higher probability of crop failure from frost damage. More hot days and a decline in rainfall or irrigation could also reduce yields;
  • Temperature increases in spring and summer will accelerate the course of crop development more crucially on short cycle crops that are sown in spring than on winter crops;
  • Total growing season may be reduced for some crops. Cereal harvest dates would occur sooner. Lack of cold days could reduce vernalization effects and consequently lengthen the first part of the growing season for the winter cereals;
  • Warmer winters can reduce the yields of stone fruits that require winter chilling (moderate coldness) and livestock would be adversely affected by greater heat stress;
  • For summer crops, determinate crop yields would be affected by the shortened crop cycle and reduced time to assimilate supply and grain-filling periods. On the other hand, improvements in the rate of dry-matter production can be expected from enhanced CO2 concentrations.

Vulnerabilities Europe - Climate change not main driver

Socio-economic factors and technological developments

Climate change is only one driver among many that will shape agriculture and rural areas in future decades. Socio-economic factors and technological developments will need to be considered alongside agro-climatic changes to determine future trends in the sector (2).

From research it was concluded that socio-economic assumptions have a much greater effect on the scenario results of future changes in agricultural production and land use then the climate scenarios (3).

The European population is expected to decline by about 8% over the period from 2000 to 2030 (4).

Scenarios on future changes in agriculture largely depend on assumptions about technological development for future agricultural land use in Europe (3). It has been estimated that changes in the productivity of food crops in Europe over the period 1961–1990 were strongest related to technology development and that effects of climate change were relatively small. For the period till 2080 an increase in crop productivity for Europe has been estimated between 25% and 163%, of which between 20% and 143% is due to technological development and 5-20% is due to climate change and CO2 fertilisation. The contribution of climate change just by itself is approximately a minor 1% (5).

Care should be taken, however, in drawing firm conclusions from the apparent lack of sensitivity of agricultural land use to climate change. At the regional scale there are winners and losers (in terms of yield changes), but these tend to cancel each other out when aggregated to the whole of Europe (3).

Future changes in land use

If technology continues to progress at current rates then the area of agricultural land would need to decline substantially. Such declines will not occur if there is a correspondingly large increase in the demand for agricultural goods, or if political decisions are taken either to reduce crop productivity through policies that encourage extensification or to accept widespread overproduction (3).

Cropland and grassland areas (for the production of food and fibre) may decline by as much as 50% of current areas for some scenarios. Such declines in production areas would result in large parts of Europe becoming surplus to the requirement of food and fibre production (3). Over the shorter term (up to 2030) changes in agricultural land area may be small (6).

Although it is difficult to anticipate how this land would be used in the future, it seems that continued urban expansion, recreational areas (such as for horse riding) and forest land use would all be likely to take up at least some of the surplus. Furthermore, whilst the substitution of food production by energy production was considered in these scenarios, surplus land would provide further opportunities for the cultivation of bioenergy crops (3).

Europe is a major producer of biodiesel, accounting for 90% of the total production worldwide (7). In the Biofuels Progress Report (8), it is estimated that in 2020, the total area of arable land required for biofuel production will be between 7.6 million and 18.3 million hectares, equivalent to approximately 8% and 19% respectively of total arable land in 2005.

The agricultural area of Europe has already diminished by about 13% in the 40 years since 1960 (3).

Adaptation strategies in Bosnia Herzegovina

According to the Work Bank, the following adaptation measures hold the greatest promise for Eastern European countries, independent of climate change scenarios (14):

  • Technology and management: Conservation tillage for maintaining moisture levels; reducing fossil fuel use from field operations, and reducing CO2 emissions from the soil; use of organic matter to protect field surfaces and help preserve moisture; diversification of crops to reduce vulnerability; adoption of drought‐, flood‐, heat‐, and pest resistant cultivars; modern planting and crop‐rotation practices; use of physical barriers to protect plants and soils from erosion and storm damage; integrated pest management (IPM), in conjunction with similarly knowledge‐based weed control strategies; capacity for knowledge based farming; improved grass and legume varieties for livestock; modern fire management techniques for forests.
  • Institutional change: Support for institutions offers countries win‐win opportunities for reducing vulnerability to climate risk and promoting development. Key institutions include: hydromet centers, advisory services, irrigation directorates, agricultural research services, veterinary institutions, producer associations, water‐user associations, agro processing facilities, and financial institutions.
  • Policy: Non‐distorting pricing for water and commodities; financial incentives to adopt technological innovations; access to modern inputs; reformed farm subsidies; risk insurance; tax incentives for private investments; modern land markets; and social safety nets.


There is a high potential for irrigation in Bosnia and Herzegovina because the abundance of water is one of the main characteristics of the water balance on the state level. Only about 0.8% of arable land is irrigated in and estimates of real irrigation needs in Bosnia and Herzegovina indicate that this is not sufficient when taking into account spatial and temporal variations in precipitation. However, most of the Bosnian rivers and streams have a torrent flow regime with high waters during the period of rains and snow melting, provoking floods, and very low waters during the dry periods which cannot provide even the biological water minimum in some streams. In order to bring the water flow regime under control, several reservoirs should be constructed. These reservoirs would secure enough water for irrigation and other needs (10).

Education, and training

Most technologies on soil drought-proofing require a profound change in farming practices, not just the change of a component (as with improved crop varieties or fertilizers). This means that farmers have to learn how to integrate new practices into their systems. They will have to pay for this learning with setbacks in the first few years, as successful adaptation usually takes some time (10).

The main reason for farmers and communities not to implement appropriate soil moisture management is lack of information, education, and training. It has also been determined that the most important reason for not adopting soil fertility options is that farmers lack capital, and credit systems are poorly developed and relatively inaccessible. Financial support is in many cases required during the transition period, as soil depletion is financially far more attractive for farmers than soil improvement. The creation of an enabling environment at a regional or national level requires important investments (10).

Drought mitigation

The main steps of drought mitigation could be the following (10):

  • Modification of crop rotation according to the natural soil water regime. This would mean the introduction of more “winter crops” (wheat, rye, winter peas, oil rape) in crop rotation system (rainfed agriculture, dry farming system); in the cool period, water deficiencies would not appear;
  • Popularization of new technologies addressing soil structure stability and soil treatment for enlarging the active layer of the root zone for enlarging water uptake;
  • Selection of proper drought-resistant crops, plant species and varieties;
  • Installation of windbreaks in windy areas, because the windbreak trees reduce wind velocity and draw water from deep soil layers, in turn giving up the water by evapotranspiration to the neighboring area and thus decreasing potential evapotranspiration;
  • Drainage, especially of heavy soils, could have an important role in drought mitigation; it is known that drained soils allow field labor in the spring earlier than un-drained soils; one day of crop planting delay provokes one percent of yield decrease; earlier planting in spring enables earlier plant growth and root development to take up the water from deeper parts of soil during dry period; in addition, drained soils increase infiltration and decrease runoff; during the dry period the warm air enters through the drain pipes into the subsoil and after cooling increases the soil humidity by condensation; in Bosnia and Herzegovina there are about 600,000 ha of these heavy soils;
  • Popularization of mulch technology for increasing infiltration into the soil and decreasing soil water loss by evaporation;
  • Use of local water reserves by constructing farm ponds for catching precipitation runoff; these waters could be used against fire and for irrigation;
  • Social awareness about drought must be raised, and the information system of drought monitoring must be improved;
  • During the last war, some rural areas were abandoned. Some of them are mined, and without de-mining it is not possible to return people to their properties; these abandoned forest and shrub areas are at risk for fire damage; the first step is de-mining and then house reconstruction;
  • An information and monitoring committee for early warning of drought must be established;
  • More attention should be paid in the future to protection of animals from high temperatures in order to prevent heat stresses, and a management system to ensure their protection should be introduced.

Weather forecasts

The status of most weather services among Eastern European countries has deteriorated considerably in the last two decades, mainly as a consequence of persistent under‐financing during the arduous transition that followed the end of central planning and the break‐up of the Soviet Union. … The perils of a weakening forecast capacity have become evident in Russia’s system, where the share of hazardous weather phenomena that were not picked up and forecast increased from 6% at the beginning of 1990s to 23% only ten years later. … Increased accuracy in forecasting would assist in the timing of fertilizer application and pest and disease control, avoiding over‐application that raises input costs and exacerbates environmental damage. There is abundant evidence that farmers in Tajikistan, Montenegro, Uzbekistan, and Albania would benefit significantly from improved monitoring and forecasting. Forecasts also would enable mitigation of frost damage, which is a serious problem for agriculture in Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Montenegro, Moldova, Armenia, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, and Bosnia, among others. Tools to mitigate the effects of sudden freezes are being developed globally, but cost‐effective application depends on accurate forecasting (14).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  1. EEA (2006), in: EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
  2. EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
  3. Rounsevell et al. (2005)
  4. UN (2004), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
  5. Ewert et al. (2005), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
  6. Van Meijl et al. (2006), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
  7. JNCC (2007), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
  8. European Commission (2006), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
  9. Bruci (2007), in: Vukmir et al. (2009)
  10. Vukmir et al. (2009)
  11. INC (2009), in: Trbic and Vojinovic (2011)
  12. WSSD (2002), in: Trbic and Vojinovic (2011)
  13. Trbic and Vojinovic (2011)
  14. World Bank Group (2009)