Agricultural aid for local inhabitants

Maj. Viktor Nikolla
Maj. Arjo Kaarre
First published July 28, 2003

Recently the Finnish Civil Military Co-operation (CIMIC) Company finished a project, which will help the sustainable return of Displaced Persons and Refugees (DPREs) in the Kamenica Gornja in Zvornik municipality. The project included the delivery of two motor cultivators and much needed accessories for the use of the local inhabitants in their agricultural activities.

Kamenica Gornja - The Economy Action Group (EAG) implemented the project. This is actually a one-man team and part of the Finnish CIMIC Project Office. According to 2Lt Jarmo Jortikka (Economy Officer), the Project Office concentrates mainly on different types of infrastructure projects within in their AOR, but the EAG role is to help returnees by improving their economic situation and thus increase their willingness to remain in the area. The EAG received a large amount of funding for their projects from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FMFA). During the winter/spring 2002-2003, EAG conducted five similar projects throughout Multinational Brigade North's Area of Responsibility. EAG's role is to act as a link between the returnees and different organizations, including banks, which provide grants or loans for various economic iniatives in the area.
Those who need the most help is their concern
Kamenica Gornja has a majority of the returnees within the Zvornik municipality and that's why it is one of the focus areas for CIMIC activities. Kamenica valley has a rich productive soil and before the war it was well known for its berry production. During the war things changed radically, berry production ceased completely, plum trees were cut and the fields were not maintained. Many fled the violence, others were not so fortunate and, there have been many mass graves found in the area.
"Despite of horrors of war, life nowadays in Kamenica Gornja is calm. The area has a Bosnian Serb majority but Bosniacs and Bosnian Serbs get along very well," said 2Lt. Timo Joki Suikko (the CIMIC officer who patrols in the area on weekly basis).
Due to the multi-ethnicity and good co-operation between the entities in Kamenica Gornja, the EAG became interested in the project when the spokesman of the local community Mr. Sead Selimovic sent a request to the CIMIC-Team. In the request, he explained the situation in the area and the pre-war activities of berry production and expressed their requirement for agricultural machinery. EAG also discovered that the neighbouring Kamenica Donja was involved in a berry production project, funded, by the International Community and there were similar plans for the Kamenica Gornja area.
Before realization of that project there was a lot of work required to clear undergrowth from the fields that had grown up during last 10 years. The area is quite hilly and there are many female led households, who find it physically difficult to carry out the clearing process. The EAG visited Mr Selimovic and other returnees a few times during the spring of 2003 and identified that motor cultivators would make a huge benefit to the people in the area.
At the end of April the funding application for the project was approved by the FMFA and after a tender competition D.O.O Porin from Tuzla was chosen as the supplier of the machines. The total value for the project was around 9000 euros.
A large number of Kamenica Gornja inhabitants turned out for the delivery of the machines on May 3rd. Mr. Selimovic expressed his gratitude to the Finnish CIMIC for their help, "These kind of projects will give people more hope and trust that they are not forgotten after they have settled down to return areas. This is especially important in Kamenica Gornja because we have a lot of children here."
This successfully concluded one of the final projects of the Finnish CIMIC Company which has now departed from Bosnia and Herzegovina. With the help of these machines the local people will be able to reconstruct their lives and berry production can once more sustain those living in the area.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Finland

Click on thumbnail to enlarge
Photos: Courtsy of Finnish CIMIC Company

Starting the engine.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Motorcultivators have been delivered.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Local Resident, Sead Selimovic, 2LT Jarmo Jortikka, CPT Henrikki Haapamaki, 2LT Timo Joki-Suikko.