Croatian minefields now produce olive oil, wine

A co-operative was forced to first clear farmland of land mines left over from the Croatian War of Independence

Almost 30 years have passed since Croatia and Serbia were at war during the Croatian War of Independence but remnants of that conflict exist today.

In 2018, agriculture has taken over the battlefields with glorious results, particularly for the MasVin co-operative based at Ravni Kotari.

Run by owners Radoslav Bobanovic and Zeljko Uzelac, MasVin, which means olive and wine, was established in 2006 to develop the surrounding rural area.

However, the owners couldn’t simply plow the land because they had to clear away the land mines first.

“All of this land was indeed minefields dating back to the early ’90s,” said Bobanovic. “Through hard work and determination, we have cleared the majority of the mines away, around four tonnes of them. About 25 percent of them exploded when we were clearing them.

“We want to reclaim more land and that will have to be cleared of mines as well.”

The co-operative currently produces wine, olives and extra virgin olive oil. It also grows figs.

It is managed as organic aided by favourable climatic conditions.

The farm produces 100 acres of olives totalling 12,000 trees planted in 2006. It grows about 16 varieties.

MasVin also has 27 acres of grapes with 50,000 vines planted in 2007, which produce well-known wines including crljenak kastelanski (zinfandel), plavina, syrah, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, marastina, babic, chardonnay and yellow muscat.

Figs are produced on eight acres on 600 trees from June until September for both fresh and dried figs.

“We sell mainly into our home market in Croatia and to the European Union. Normally we sell 70,000 bottles of wine per year and 100,000 litres of olive oil and 40,000 kilos of edible olives,” said Radoslav.

He said the irrigated land draws employees from a healthy labour pool that exists around the area and they pay $85 per day for an eight-hour shift.

“Most of my time in the summer season is taken up by hosting tasting sessions and tours for the tourists, which is a very important part of the business too,” he added.

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