Livno cheese gets second life thanks to Czech help
Livno cheese is one of the best-known food specialties produced on the territory of former Yugoslavia. However, traditional cheese production has been seriously affected by the civil war that swept through the country in the 1990s. Since 2015, experts from the Czech Development Agency have been helping small-scale farmers to succeed on local markets and find ways to export their cheese abroad.
“The Livno cheese is a very interesting cheese produced from non-pasteurised sheep milk. 120 years ago Swiss cheesemakers introduced in the region their technology of making the mountain cheese Gruyere made from cows’ milk. The technology has been modified for mixed milk, which means around 80 percent sheep milk and 20 percent cows’ milk. It is actually a hard cheese, with more than 60 percent of dry matter and a maturity time of approximately two months. The cheese has a specific sheep-milk taste.”
The Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s left the region in disarray, destroying local infrastructure. But according to cheese expert Jiří Kopáček, the biggest problem for local cheese producers was Croatia’s access to the European Union.
Another problem local farmers have been facing in recent years is the growing competition from industrial cheese factories. They are producing cheese made of pasteurised cow’s milk, which is cheaper, and sell it for a competitive price while still using the brand “Livno cheese”. During his visits to the region, cheese expert Jiří Kopáček visited over 30 local farmers and says the most burning issues they are facing today is lack of drinking water and electricity. So what kind of help does the Czech Development Agency provide?
“First of all we started to carry out veterinary controls, along with the local veterinary authority. We have been providing the farmers with the necessary equipment and tools, such as anti-corrosion barrels, freezing containers for milk, milking equipment and other equipment. We also support another organisation in the region, American UNPD, which has been building manufacturing plant for cheese-making, providing them with equipment.”
A local farmer’s association called Cincar has recently established a limited company and, thanks to the help of Czech Development Agency, they have opened new premises with ripening cellars and a marketing centre. If the situation continues to develop favourably, traditional Livno cheese may soon be available on the EU market as well.