Chapter 6. Damage to Agriculture

By Deirdre Sinnott

Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions -- 1977

Part IV
Civilian Population
Section 1. General Protection Against Effects of Hostilities

Article 54. Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population.

1. Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited.

2. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agriculture areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.

What does it take to feed a country?

There are many elements to the question. For agriculture I would say it takes arable land, seeds, machinery, fuel for the machines, spare parts, fertilizer, pesticides, productive planting season, water, transportation of products, refrigeration, electricity, feed for livestock, and the people to make it all happen.

There has been a negative impact of the breakup of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for the past decade. Not only have valuable resources been split away like, the Krajina and Slavonia regions of Croatia, but production in Serbia has dropped as well. The bulk of the agricultural area of Yugoslavia is in the northern part, Vojvodina. As of 1998 Yugoslavia was still producing enough grains for domestic use and export. (1)  The 1998 Official grain harvest was 8.6 million tons, (17% less than 1997.)

In June of 1999 the UN Food and Agricultural Organization reported that "Grain production has likely been affected heavily by chronic shortages of farm funds and inputs, and damage to industries serving agriculture and infrastructure. Shortages of inputs and fuel, disruption of labor and damage to fields and other infrastructure are likely to keep yields low." (2)  Reports also indicated that the area sown for wheat fell 20% during this planting season. (3) The forecast for this harvest are not good.

During the period from 1986 to 1996 the total production from inland fisheries dropped 47%. (4) This figure includes the former republics, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Macedonia as well as Yugoslavia today. This drop is the result of what the report called "civil disturbances."   (5) Since part of the Commission of Inquiry is to document the U.S. role in the breakup of Yugoslavia, these figures are important to show how the region was weakened and more vulnerable for takeover.

There has also been a 14.2% drop in the number of sheep from 1985-1995 and a .5% decrease between 1995 and 1996. (6) The main product from animal husbandry in FRY is meat and as of 1998 there was enough for a 1000 ton export annually. (7)

During the Bombing

In a testimony published in a Spanish weekly newspaper "Articulo 20," a Spanish pilot described his experiences under U.S./NATO command as well as the targets pilots hit. "Captain Adolfo Luis Martin de la Hoz, who returned to Spain at the end of May after having participated in the bombings since the beginning, an 'authentic expert for the F-18' said, 'First of all I want to make it clear that the majority, I say the majority, of my colleagues, even if not all, are against the war in general and against this war of barbarity in particular.'" (8)

Captain Martin de la Hoz went on, "Several times our colonel protested to NATO chiefs about why they select targets which are not military targets. "Once there was a coded order from the North American Military that we should drop anti-personnel bombs over localities of Prishtine and Nis. All of the missions that we flew, all and each one, were planned in detail, including attacking planes, targets and type of ammunition were planned by U.S. high ranking military authorities.

"They are destroying the country, bombing it with novel weapons, toxic nerve gases, surface mines dropped by parachute, bombs containing uranium, black napalm. sterilization chemicals, sprayings to poison crops and weapons of which even we till do not know anything."  (9)

A FRY report on the war damage documents large numbers of the buildings, industry, forests and other agriculture related facilities and resources destroyed during the 77 days of bombing. Many of the NATO air assaults have been on different manufacturing facilities. One such attack was on the Fertilizer plant in Pancevo on June 6, 1999, (10)   Photos of the resultant cloud are attached. Not only did the destruction endanger the surrounding crops around Pancevo but the necessary fertilizers were destroyed.

Additional facilities destroyed in bombings:

Dunav grad Juice factory in Belgrade on 4/29/99

Lola Utva, agricultural aircraft factory in Pancevo on 5/24-29/99

Agrocrop, storage house in Sabac on 5/22/99

Din, tobacco factory in Nis on 4/5/99 and 5/12/99

Elektrotehna warehouse in Nis

Fidelinka food storage facility in NisJuhor, Meat processing plant in Jagodina on 5/15/99

Cotton Yarn factory in Pristina

Facilities of the wood processing plan in Pec, on 2/21/99

Kosovo Vino, wine factory, in Prizen, on 5/6-12/99

Metohija vino, wine factory, in Urosevac, on 5/19/99

Orchard institute in Novi Sad, 4/6/99

Agricultural and industrial complex "Proges" in Prizren, on 4/8/99

Chicken farm Juko in Djakovica, on 4/12/99

Agricultural and food-processing plant and cow-breeding farm with 220 milk cows Pester in Sjenica on 4/6-8/99

Sumsko Gazdinstvo forest farm in Suva Reka, 4/19/99

Titel agricultural complex in Titel, 4/20/99

Podunavlje agricultural and industrial complex in Backi Petrovac on 4/21/99

Agricultural and industrial complex Becej in Nis 4/25/99

PIK Mladost in Gnjiland 3/26 and 4/30/ 99

Agricultural complex Petefi in Novi Sad, on 4/28/99

Agrounija agricultural complex in Indjija on 5/1/99

7.juli agricultural complex in Belgrade, 5/2/99

agricultural complex in Djakovica on 5/4/99

Chicken factory in Gnjiland on 5/9/99

Agricultural complex in Subotica on 5/10/99

PIK Kopaonik in Kursumlija

Agricultural complex Malizgan in Dolac

Agricultural complex Djuro Strugar in Kula

Agricultural complex in the village of Svetlje housing refugees on 5/11/99

Agricultural complex PKB Cororation in Belgrade on 5/15/99

Pig Breeding farm in the v. Ponosevac on 5/15/99

Agricultural complex Djuro Strugar in Kula on 5/20 and 6/3/99

Warehouses of the Agricultural complex Agrocoop in Sabac on 5/22/99

Agricultural farm Dobricevo near Cuprija 5/25 & 27/99

farm of the Agricultural complex dobricevo in Cuprija 5/26/99

Agricultural complex Dubrava in Pristina 5/30/99

Agricultural farm Stocarstvo in Prizren on 6/2/99

Forestry complex Juzni Kucaj in Despotovac on 6/3/99

Pig farm Ekohrana in Boljevac on 6/8/99  (11)

It is also noted in the FRY report that "Several thousand hectares of fertile land, many rivers, lakes and underground waters have been polluted due to the spillage of petrochemical substances, oil spills and slicks which will, certainly, have long lasting effects on the health of the entire population of the FRY. In the forest fires caused by NATO cruise missiles and bombs more than several hundred hectares of forests have been burned down.  (12)

More reports will be coming in as the fall harvest and winter planting gets under way. However U.S. destabilization plans may continue to disrupt the delivery of food and other agricultural products to the people of Yugoslavia. There has been some sort of damage to almost every element of what it takes to feed a country and we have seen the disastrous results of malnutrition and other man mad catastrophes in this very decade in Iraq.


  1. United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UN FAO) & Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), February 1999 report on Foodcrops and Shortages for FRY (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
  2. UN FAO/GIEWS, June 30, 1999 report of Foodcrops and Shortages for FRY
  3. ibid.
  4. European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission EIFAC Report to the 20th Session in Portugal, June 23-July 1, 1998, FAO web Page
  5. ibid.
  6. Current Situation in Sheep & Goat Husbandry in FRY, M.P. Petrovic, M. Zujovic, Institute for Animal Husbandry, Blegrade-Zemun, FRY, July 15, 1998, FAO Web Page
  7. ibid.
  8. Articulo 20, Number 30, June 14, 1999
  9. ibid.
  10. Photos appear on a web page at
  11. FRY Report, Provisional Assessment of Civilian Casualties and Destruction in the Territory of the FRY from 24 March to 08 June 1999
  12. ibid.

Commission of Inquiry
c/o International Action Center
39 West 14th Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
phone: 212 633-6646
fax: 212 633-2889


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Table of Contents: Selected Research Findings