Supported by Sweden/USAID FARMA II project "Terra Sana" continues training of medicinal and aromatic plant collectors
Ermina, Enes and Azemina make a hard working team of “Terra Sana“, which has been supporting agricultural development in Sanski Most for the last 13 years. Formed as an association originating from the Lutheran Alliance's support program, today they continue the mission of connecting quality education with the provision of modern technologies, crucial to small producers in the fruit, vegetable, and medicinal and aromatic plant sectors.
“We started off as an agricultural pharmacy, but today we have two hectares of aronia, and make pressed fruit juices, and essential oils, fats and macerates. We are recognizable for the production of wild oregano oil, and we also produce mint, white pine, ST. Jon’s Wort, canary, fir and juniper oil,” says Ermina, adding that today finding wild herb collectors is a great challenge.
In partnership with Sweden/USAID FARMA II, “Terra Sana”, which trains medicinal and aromatic plants collectors, has recently produced a Calendar for collection of those plants to better help the collectors.
Among other things, the Calendar provides guidance on the look of different types of medicinal and aromatic plants and the periods when different species can be found in nature. Within the Calendar, collectors can also find contacts of buyout companies, which is of huge benefit for the development of their business. The plan is for this Calendar to be used in future training for plants collectors.
Ermina says they now produce herbal oils from calendula, immortelle, St. Jon’s Wort and wild oregano and that their natural juices can be found at local markets. “We want to be present in the local community and recognizable. And in the whole process, we try to involve as many people as possible, provide them with information, give them space to work and make income. We recently did some training on collection of medicinal plants. Most of the time, people who have already done this show the interest, but it's hard to persuade someone new to get involved. Those who collected in the past will collect also in the future and will earn a solid additional income out of that activity, and those who did not work as collectors always find some excuse or 'math' which says the job is not profitable,” Ermina explains.
Ermina believes that Sanski Most is often an example of positive changes and investments, but that the departure of young people has not been stopped, and that citizens of Sanski Most themselves remember better times.
“When we compare our city with places that are experiencing full economic stagnation, it is clear that a positive conclusion can be made. However, reality still scares us. The departure of people is massive, we miss people – labor force from the pickers to the experts. But we must continue to work, in order to turn trends in the other direction. Here you have a large presence of the diaspora, examples of investments by people who have returned or are still living outside of BiH. And that brings some faith that things will go in a positive direction," Ermina emphasizes.
Another working day ends at the association “Terra Sana”. Many more challenges are ahead of this team of experts in the future, on the road to building self-sustaining agricultural production in Sana.
"We are the ones who are here, trying to improve the situation. If we look at the last two months and compare to the same period last year, we have double the turnover. There is room for optimism, and we will continue to work on our original mission - to educate and train people first, before giving them the tools. Also, we are always supportive of someone just starting the business. We are here for advice or some other kind of professional help. Making the first few steps is the hardest part. We are aware of these challenges as well, because we’ve been in their shows at our beginnings,” Ermina concludes.