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Milk and Dairy production, Youth, and Croatia's development

I was raised in an urban family which was, until recently, without any relation to agriculture. Regardless, since I was very young I loved animals, and have known that I’ll be in some way professionally related to them later in life.In elementary school I used to say I’ll be a veterinarian with my own ranch herding different animals. Later, when I hadn’t started with veterinarian studies, the closest calling I found was in agriculture and animal science.In time I realized it’s not necessary to heal animals in order to help them, but that it’s possible to also prevent problems with right sort of feeding and husbandry.Seven years ago, my father decided to invest his life savings in acquiring an agricultural estate of 50ha. Since then my whole family has joined in our dairy farm project which is still in the phase of realization. This project gave me an insight into the problems that newly arrived, that farmers are facing a lot, and I also learned how to deal with some of them.During my bachelor studies I’ve done internship in a goat farm in the Netherlands. There I encountered different production methods which helped me widen my scope in regard to local farmer’s problems in Croatia.I am just about to successfully end my master’s course in milk and dairy production. My studies showed me that, besides the production of milk and dairy, good marketing is also an important aspect as well as connection and cooperation between small scale producers.My goal is to contribute to the improvement of milk and dairy branch of Croatian agriculture, as the situation in the last several years has been anything but good. Croatia is a small country, consequently also being a small market, and joining the large EU market puts us in a precarious position. If we are to survive, let alone thrive, I think it is critical among other things, to entice much higher level of cooperation among local producers.One other crucial aspect is to develop local intelligence, assemble educated cadre and think, work in innovative ways. As it’s not possible for us to compete in size, we must search for our own niches, and strive for recognizable produce aiming for quality rather than quantity. For that we need educated experts to be in tighter contact and cooperating, a significant aspect of which is good information and knowledge flow.In that light, it is my great hope and desire to see young producers under guidance of local experts getting a chance to make an impact in securing a brighter future for our local agriculture.Recently becoming a mother myself made me much more aware about the importance of food quality and safety. In order to improve quality of life for us and future generations as well, developing agriculture is absolutely of utmost importance. This can only be achieved with a joint effort of the new generation of young educated experts.I learned of YPARD from a friend via a social network and have found it a certain source of optimism. I realized that networking and information exchange of professional news and breakthroughs yields more positive results. I’m proud to contribute YPARD development in Croatia and I hope, together with my future colleagues, to be a part of the positive change in agriculture.By Zrinka Filipovic DermitYPARD representative for Croatia