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Television Program Links Isolated Serbian Farming Communities in Kosovo

Vojislav Stojanovic says the harvest in central Kosovo should be good this year. As he stands in his wheat field in Caglavica with a reporter from the new “Agrar” TV show, he rubs the grains between his fingers and tastes them, as generations of farmers have done before him, to judge when they should begin harvesting. “Its good, full of flavor,” he says. “But it is still damp, maybe another five or six days.”   

This new program provides Serbian farmers and farming-dependent communities in the most isolated areas of Kosovo relevant and useful information to improve their work and livelihood. The program aired for the first time on Sunday, July 10 on the Serbian language TV Mreza network. These four leading Serb language TV stations, together with the independent producer New Press in Caglavica, produced the program

The stations that are part of the TV Mreza network cover 80% of Serbs living in Kosovo, from Leposavic in the north to Strpce in the south (see map). The network, through programs like “Agrar,” allows Serb communities in north and south Kosovo to keep in touch with events outside their own areas. Since many Serb communities are small and isolated, they rely on television for news and information. However, Kosovar stations do not broadcast in Serbian and Serbian stations from Belgrade seldom cover local issues of concern to the Serbian communities in Kosovo. The stations have filled this information gap through exchanges of news items, talk shows, and magazine programs that address the daily concerns on Kosovo’s Serbian population.

The “Agrar” project is masterminded by the TV Mreza marketing manager Stanko Pevac, partly funded through a sponsorship deal with Raiffeisen bank. “Raiffeisen bank wants to reach potential customers in agribusiness in Kosovo,” he says. “TV Mreza broadcasts to the Serb farmers they want to talk to. So we can both gain from a good business relationship.”

The Support for Independent Minority Media (SIMM) program has built and equipped the network and developed production skills. The challenge now is to build revenues so the network sustains itself through projects such as the “Agrar” program, watched by farmers like Vojislav Stojanovic.        

The Agrar program, the TV Mreza Network, and the individual stations are supported by IREX’s Strengthening Independent Minority Media (SIMM) program, funded by USAID.