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Adriatic Countries Launch Project to Boost Food Self-Sufficiency

Šempeter pri Gorici, 21 March (STA) - Five Balkan countries plus Italy have joined forces to boost cross-border cooperation and food self-sufficiency in the Adriatic region as part of a project dubbed AGRONET, which was launched at the beginning of March and will run until the end of 2013.

In the project, which joins eleven partners from six countries, Slovenia is represented by Regional Development Agency of Northern Primorska from Nova Gorica.

The lead partner is Italy's Finest, a financial company for the promotion of economic cooperation with Eastern European countries.

The main goal of the project is to enhance cooperation in the distribution of agricultural and food products, promote SMEs, and establish a permanent network for distribution and services in food production lines in the Adriatic area.

"It all about reviving old routes and increasing production of agricultural products. The participating countries have always been connected...but these traditional connections have been severed," Črtomir Špacapan of the Slovenia partner in the project said at Wednesday's presentation.

AGRONET, worth some EUR 2.5m, is therefore to revive cooperation among Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Italy.

"In Slovenia as well as in the other countries agriculture is being abandoned and today we are importing most of our food. It is absurd that we are importing say garlic and onion from China even though we could grow them at home," Špacapan said.

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