SERBIA – The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development EBRD has funded Master Food, a western Serbia-based company that purchases, processes, and packages organic and conventionally grown berries, to upgrade its equipment.

The company received a loan and once the investment was completed, Master Food received a cashback incentive financed by the European Union.

Master Food invested the funds in an automatic packer for frozen fruit and a line for fruit washing and control, intending to reduce manual work and electricity costs while increasing production.

Master Food exports its products to Canada, the Middle East, Spain, and Germany, but with increased production capacity and greener technology, it hopes to reach new markets too.

 “We have also increased the quality of our packaged products, which enables us to be competitive in the market as well as opening new markets,” explained Svetislav Mladjenovic, CEO of Master Food.

“We plan to continue investing in sustainable economic development, which means acquiring additional processing equipment and investing in a small solar power plant. Of course, expanding exports and opening new markets is something that is always in the plan.”

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has also funded Lithuanian fintech company seeking to support transition to sustainable farming practices through the TaiwanBusiness ‒ EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund.

By shifting to no-till farming or other sustainable land management practices, agri-entrepreneurs will reduce fuel consumption, and fertilizer expenses and prevents the emission of about 2 tonnes of CO2 per hectare each year, Lithuanian fintech start-up HeavyFinance states.

The start-up, launched in 2020, is on a mission to accelerate financing for small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises by connecting farms with the global investor community.

It has created a fintech marketplace where farmers can meet investors to get finance to meet their exact needs, be that seeds, equipment, arable land, or funds to pay employees.

Laimonas Noreika CEO and co-founder of HeavyFinance noted: “Smallholder farmers are key to tackling the food security issues the world is facing, but they’re also increasingly facing barriers to profitability.”

“While the shift to new agri-technologies is helping raise crop productivity, smallholders don’t always have access to an affordable source of credit to make the jump. And let’s not forget they also need to invest in education to learn how to best use these new technologies.”

The land is the most valuable asset for farmers. Equally, agriculture is one of the most critical global drivers of climate change.

HeavyFinance believes that farmers can transition to better, more resilient soil while also reducing biodiversity loss and mitigating climate change.

No-tillage farming ‒ aka “shaving” the soil, instead of ploughing ‒ is one of the most viable options for increasing carbon sequestration while producing food, Laimonas underscored.

He explained that when farmers do not plough, carbon becomes trapped in the soil, helping to provide other crops with the nutrients they need.

At the same time, the carbon is not released into the atmosphere, preventing the emission of about 2 tonnes of CO2 per hectare each year.

With this in mind, the company is aiming to remove and store 500,000 tonnes of CO2 in agricultural land by the end of 2037, an equivalent of capturing the CO2 emitted by an average gasoline-powered passenger vehicle driving 1.2 billion kilometers, or traveling to the moon and back more than 1,550 times.

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