Sweet are the fruits of labor: jam making the Norwegian-Bosnian way

Did you know that jam and biscuit making can lead to a PhD? And did you know that a Norwegian pear variety (“Ingeborg”) was supposedly saved thanks to research collaboration with the University of Sarajevo?

Sweet are the fruits of labor: jam making the Norwegian-Bosnian way

As two PhD candidates from Bosnia & Herzegovina conduct research in the IKBM (Department for Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science) laboratories on what happens to the antioxidants during processing of fruits (including jam) and explore the possibility of using forest plant fruits in the food industry, another PhD candidate, Ognjen Zurovec, from the same country is at Noragric, looking at agriculture adaptation to climate change in the Western Balkans. And there are several more students at NMBU from the region.

Bridge Dina River - na Drini Cuprija (Symbolic historical border between West& East)
Bridge Dina River - na Drini Cuprija (Symbolic historical border between West& East)
Photo
Mensur Vegara
Not known by many, but this university has been working together with partners in Eastern-, South-Eastern Europe and the Western Balkan countries for some 25 years. The East Europe Office at NLH was established in 1989 and merged with Noragric in 1995. Projects and programmes managed by the office were funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To date there has been strong political support in Norway for the Western Balkans. Norway provided approx. NOK 10 billion to the region during 1991-2008.

Collaboration between NLH and partners in Ukraine lasted from 1990-1995; the Balkan programme started simultaneously (1993) and continued until 1996. Activities in the region focused mostly on capacity building of the agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine faculties at partner universities. After the Balkan war ended (1999), focus shifted to rebuilding links with partner universities, establishing academic programmes and educating new bachelor, master, PhD and post-doc students.

Current collaboration falls under the Higher education, research and development in the Western Balkans (HERD)/Agriculture programme (2010-2015) which includes 13 projects at NMBU, Bioforsk and two university colleges (Hedmark and Sør-Trøndelag). The programme’s main goal is to contribute to economic growth and social development through academic cooperation. Of the five HERD sub-programmes, HERD/Agriculture is the largest. “The fact that NMBU (UMB/NLH) has had good connections in the region since the 1980’s is the reason for the large number of projects in this sub-programme”, says Thor S. Larsen, sector manager for the HERD/Agriculture programme whose secretariat is based at Noragric.

University of Sarajevo, still showing the effects of the war
University of Sarajevo, still showing the effects of the war
Photo
Joanna Boddens-Hosang
Bosnia & Herzegovina is the country with most HERD/Agriculture projects, particularly with the University of Sarajevo (Faculty of Agriculture and Food Science). Fruit and vegetable processing in Bosnia and Herzegovina is largely underdeveloped and the goal is to get better products on the market as well as exporting the products to the EU.  Through collaboration with NMBU, the objective of the jam-making project is to improve the University of Sarajevo’s faculty research infrastructure and raise human capacity through education of young researchers.

Sector manager Larsen adds: “NMBU’s cooperation with the Western Balkans confirms that academic institutions are important contributors for the region’s social and economic development. When programme activities are harmonized with national and institutional regional policy and strategies, they provide important advice and support to governments, the private sector and to individual farmers”.

At Noragric there are two HERD/Agriculture projects, one coordinated by Prof. Bishal Sitaula focusing on agricultural adaptation to climate change; and the other coordinated by Prof. Mensur Vegara, addressing entrepreneurship in sustainable use of pastureland/grazing. The latter has played a key role in the earlier collaboration programmes with the region and originally comes from Bosnia himself.

While the HERD/Agriculture programme (funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) comes to an end in December 2015, researchers in the projects are looking for ways to continue the collaboration. It is hoped that other funding sources will be identified in order to continue collaboration.

More information:

HERD/Agriculture website at NMBU

HERD website at Norwegian Ministry of Foregin Affairs

Published 9. January 2015 - 11:31 - Updated 1. December 2016 - 11:46