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Serbia: Strengthening the Competitiveness of the Food Processing Industry

USAID Competitiveness Systems Strengthening Activity (CSS)


To compete in the global market, Serbian firms must be able to deliver a unique or higher-quality product more efficiently than their competitors. This firm-level competitiveness can only be achieved through reforms that build all levels of the value chain, including suppliers, producers, processors, and buyers, as well as support services and enabling environments.


Building on previous investments, successes, and lessons learned from initiatives implemented by USAID and other donors in Serbia, USAID’s Competitiveness Systems Strengthening Activity (CSS Project), implemented by DT Global legacy Cardno International Development, strengthened Serbia’s fruits and vegetables sector, using growth of sales as the key benchmark for evaluating performance.

CSS utilized a market systems development approach to strengthen the competitiveness of Serbia’s food and vegetable sector. The Project enabled and facilitated local actors to develop and implement solutions to addresses systemic challenges to growth and competitiveness. CSS focused its support on value chains and products with the highest potential competitiveness in international markets.

Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting was a fundamental component of CSS’s approach. The Project team closely monitored the progress of activities, mitigated risks, and adjusted implementation methodologies and priorities as needed.

Goals and Results

  • CSS supported and partnered with 893 organizations, including 580 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in 114 municipalities.
  • During the life of the Project, average sales of CSS-supported firms increased by 46%.
  • CSS supported 84 SMEs to obtain financing for 90 investments projects with a total value of $42 million.
  • In partnership with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the Development Agency of Serbia, the Ministry of Agriculture, and industry associations, CSS supported 93 companies to participate in international trade fairs in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East, and 662 firms to exhibit at trade shows in Serbia.
  • Through collaboration with Industry leading companies and trade associations, CSS helped 164 SMEs and 3,231 fruit and vegetable growers enter new, high-value, export supply chains.
  • CSS helped establish Serbia as a source of premium wine, focusing on the promotion of indigenous grape varieties, such as Prokupac.
  • CSS supported workforce development by helping the Belgrade Faculty of Agriculture introduce specialized food industry certification courses.
  • To support financing for micro agribusiness producers, CSS partnered with the Divac Foundation and nine municipalities to establish revolving funds, which provide local farmers with interest-free financing for equipment purchases.
2017 - 2022
Implemented by
DT Global US
Technical Areas
Sub-Technical Areas
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