In Bosnia and Herzegovina, agribusinesses run by women help villages survive

Women in rural areas contribute significantly to the development of agriculture. This is confirmed by the story of Drena Đukić, Senior Expert Associate for Cooperatives and Consulting at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Republika Srpska. Through professional as well as private engagement, Drena Đukić actively contributes to strengthening the position of women in rural areas, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article is part of UN Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina campaign “Thank you, heroines”, aimed at raising awareness on numerous contributions of women during COVID-19 response.


Drena Đukić in her greenhouse, Photo: From private archive.
Drena Đukić in her greenhouse, Photo: From private archive.

Together with her colleagues, and in cooperation with the Gender Centre of Republika Srpska and UN Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Drena Đukić participates in the implementation of a series of activities aimed at economic empowerment of women engaged in agribusiness.

"The Ministry finances the business activities of women's associations in rural areas, and we provide support in the purchase of agricultural products. In cooperation with UN Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we implement training for women and enable them to apply the acquired knowledge in practice. Our priority is women living in the countryside in difficult economic and social conditions,” says Đukić.

UN Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in partnership with Sweden, supports the Ministry and Gender Centre of RS in the implementation of a pilot project in the Banja Luka region with the aim of defining innovative activities for gender responsive budgeting at the regional level.

"The goal of the project was to direct the funds of agricultural incentives to women in rural areas. During the implementation of the project, the need was expressed to open a sales area in Banja Luka where products of agricultural producers, associations and cooperatives would be sold. Representatives of the City of Banja Luka supported and realized the idea, so we opened the shop ‘Krajiška Kuća’ at an excellent location,” adds Đukić.

She believes that it is important to improve the position of women in rural areas through training and enhance their access to grants that would provide initial funds for starting an agribusiness.

Drena lives in the municipality of Ribnik near Banja Luka. In her free time, together with her family, she is engaged in agriculture, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, this has proved to be very useful.

"I produce the necessary food for my family on the family farm, and in the shops I mostly buy supplies that I don't produce in my field or in the barn - those are spices, coffee, sugar and chemicals. During the coronavirus pandemic, I increased the sown areas and planted crops for food, because we realized that the ban on movement showed that it was much easier for us in the countryside. We didn't have to go to buy food every day, we ate products that we produced ourselves. ”

Unfortunately, Đukić and her family members were infected with the coronavirus and spent several days in isolation and in the hospital. Neighbours and friends provided them with great support.

"We are all well now and we are back to our daily responsibilities. It is important that we all be conscientious and responsible and that we respect the recommended preventive measures, because each of us can do a lot for ourselves and for society."

This article is part of the UN Women in BiH campaign “Thank you, heroines”, that is aimed at raising awareness about the numerous contributions of women who are on the frontlines of response to the COVID-19 crisis. Follow UN Women in BiH social media, read stories about some of these amazing women, and thank the women you think are heroines by using the hashtag #ThankYouHeroines. Together let’s support the women who are contributing to a strong COVID-19 response! #HeroinesTellTheirStories