Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Here We Do Not Live Only for the Sake of Living...

Rebuilding agriculture in one corner of Bosnia.

This film focuses on Jusuf Arifagic, who is building up a modern livestock business in Bosnia, providing opportunity where there was once conflict.

From Kozarac, a town in northwest Bosnia, Arifagic was held in Bosnian Serb prison camps during the conflict in the early 1990s.

He eventually made it to Norway, where he was able to get a bank loan and set up a property company. With the money he made, he returned to post-war Bosnia and bought some farmland.

Inspired by Norway’s rise from poverty to its present prosperity in a matter of decades, he approached a livestock company and asked it to license him to start up a breeding centre for the Norwegian Red breed of cow.

“They initially looked at me in disbelief, wondering who this person was who wanted to go to Bosnia and build a farm with 600 dairy cows,” he recalls.

While the farm is up and running, Arifagic has bigger plans – to build a biogas unit generating electricity and heat, which in turn will run an extensive greenhouse and storage and packing facilities for the produce grown there. Then he will launch an agricultural college using Norwegian teaching methods.

“My intention is to transfer here the agricultural know-how which the Norwegians have built up over 75 years, and also their scientific achievements… and they have allowed me to do that,” he says.

Arifagic now employs 21 people but hopes to raise that to around 150, and says people should wake up to the opportunities that farming offers.

“All we need to do is start cultivating the land and producing, yet all we do is sit and complain that nothing can be done. I think it can,” he says.

The Trnopolje prison camp, one of the facilities where Arifagic was held and witnessed horrific scenes, lies close by, and he is reminded of the past every time he passes it.

“However,” he adds, “I cannot accept that the pain of one Serb, a Bosniak or a Croat mother is greater or smaller than that of another.”

“I have returned to my country,” he says. “We need to talk about what happened in the past. But we should make sure it never happens again to anyone.”

This film was produced as part of the Ordinary Heroes project, funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo. IWPR is implementing the project in partnership with the Post-Conflict Research Centre in Sarajevo.  

More IWPR's Global Voices