Velimirovic Winery is located in the Malenza village in Zagarac, 17km from Podgorica. It is home to a grape vine which is planted on four hectares and which yields about 30 tonnes of grapes each year. With fertile soil, plenty of sun, and enough rain, the quality of the wine is guaranteed.

However, for this former family-owned estate to grow into a successful business over time, support was needed from the outside. Velimirovic decided to look for this within the IPARD-like grant – The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance for Rural Development – through which the European Union and the Government of Montenegro support Montenegrin farmers.

“We would not have been part of this story if it wasn’t for the IPARD. When you know that almost half of your money will be returned, it is a great relief and an incentive for you to embark on new business ventures,”explained the Winery’s Executive Director, Dusan Velimirovic, during an interview for the EU Info Centre team.

So far 680 beneficiaries of the IPARD-like grants and IPARD Programme in Montenegro. More than 9 million EUR public support reached the MNE agriculture via the IPARD-like grants and much higher budget is envisaged for the real IPARD Programme – €87 million, of which the EU provides €39 million, Montenegro €12 million, and the rest are IPARD beneficiaries.

“The IPARD Programme is a form of EU support especially designed for Montenegro and other Candidate Countries for the purpose of rural development in the pre-accession process. For the period between 2014-2020, the EU has dedicated €39 million for Montenegro’s rural development. So, simply said – the EU supports Montenegro in producing food that is of good quality and that is safe in modern farms, while reviving the rural areas, as well!” explained EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Milutin Simovic, pointed out that the projects implemented under the IPARD Programme represent a development impulse for the Montenegrin agriculture.

“In November, we will mark two years since we’ve created the conditions for the implementation of the IPARD Programme with a total value of €87 million. The EU has provided €39 million, with more than 12 million from the Montenegrin budget, and the rest is provided by the beneficiaries of this valuable programme,” said Simovic.

A Second IPARD call is underway, for the so-called Measure 3 ‘Investments in physical assets concerning processing and marketing of agricultural and fishery products’, through which farmers will receive €15 million in grants. The call is open until 20th December.

“I would strongly encourage the farmers and the agribusinesses to apply for the IPARD grants. If you have an idea how to develop your farm, production, processing, use new technologies or to set up new ones, use this opportunity to realise your idea and make your dream come true,” advised Nadia Kyuchukova, of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro.

The Velimirovic Winery has benefited twice from the IPARD-like grants. They used the money to build a facility and purchase equipment.

“We also plan to apply for the Second Call for Measure 3 in order to expand our capacities. I absolutely recommend everyone to apply, IPARD is a great story,” explained Dusan Velimirovic.