Standing among shelves stacked high with row upon row of giant cheese wheels, Eko-sir Pudja Livno production manager Marijan Puda looks like a proud father.
“Our main product is Livanjski cheese,” he says. “That is our pride and joy. It is a cheese which is recognized worldwide and has won many awards in both domestic and European markets.”
Although several Bosnian-produced cheeses are already well-known in the country, they are now becoming recognized internationally. Livanjski cheese took home a gold medal for quality against 109 other cheeses at the 12th International Exhibition of Cheese (Käsiade) in Austria in 2014. At the same competition, three members of the Bosnian Cheese Producers Association were awarded gold medals in the “Rustic/Peasant Cheeses” category.
“In addition to the fact that we all in Bosnia and Herzegovina claim our cheeses are good, we now for the first time have confirmation of that by the world’s best cheese connoisseurs at world competitions,” said Omer Mrakić, president of the Cheese Producers Association.
The country’s cheese industry is growing and flourishing, partly thanks to the help of the Fostering Agricultural Markets Activity (FARMA), implemented by Chemonics and jointly funded by USAID and the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency/Embassy of Sweden.
Before the cheese association was launched in 2012, FARMA trained its members on new cheese production technologies and European Union (EU) standards and organized field trips to national cheese associations in other EU countries. With project support, a catalogue of cheese producers was developed, and cheese promotion and tasting events were organized in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the region to promote local cheeses. FARMA also assisted local dairies in developing a greater range of high value-added products and developing new cheese varieties. With FARMA’s assistance, 16 new varieties are now being produced and sold in domestic markets.