Working Group - Vegetables

 Vegetables are a large group of plants with different chemical composition, different usage and different conditions of growth. Various parts of vegetables are used for food (root, stem, leaf, inflorescence, grain, bulb, etc.). When talking about biodiversity of vegetables, it is extremely important to stress that a large number of species and ecotypes of vegetables are created in diverse geographical and ecological conditions in the Republic of Srpska, i.e. plains, hilly and mountainous areas and the Mediterranean region. It should be noted that these areas are primary or secondary genetic centers of origin of some types of vegetables (cabbages, onions, etc).

The human impact on biodiversity is enormous. Migrations of people and dying out of villages are just a few factors compromising biodiversity. Old varieties and vegetable populations are mainly produced in gardens, thus the above mentioned factors have contributed to the loss of a large gene pool of vegetables. The improper use of genetic resources puts them at risk of impoverishment and loss. The uncontrolled substitute varieties, inadequate technology and scientific selection have also had a negative impact on the genetic diversity of vegetables.

The Working Group for Vegetables, operating within the Programme for Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources of the Republic of Srpska strives to preserve the richness of the populations, varieties and genotypes of vegetables. It seeks to do this through the implementation of the following programme activities:

  • field visits and inventory of plant genetic resources ,
  • collection of plant genetic resources ,
  • analysis of the collected accessions,
  • multiplication and regeneration of collected accessions,
  • description and evaluation of the collections (genotypes),
  • review of existing collections and assessment of their genetic diversity,
  • long-term in situ and ex situ conservation of wild and cultivated plant resources of vegetables,
  • establishment of the on-farm management for plant genetic resources of vegetables ,
  • development of traditional knowledge and skills of the genetic resources of vegetables

through promotional activities on the conservation and use of plant genetic resources and publication in the field of conservation of plant resources and others.

The above mentioned programme activities are implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management (the Agency for  Provision of Professional Services in Agriculture), the Agricultural Institute of the Republic of Srpska and local communities.

Permanent members of the Working Group for Vegetables are:





Prof. Vida Todorović, PhD (Coordinator)

University of Banja Luka, Faculty of Agriculture






More things about vegetables

As stated by Radić  in "Novosadski baštovan"  magazine (1878): "Vegetables are all plants that we grow in our gardens, any part of which is used for food. "

About 5,000 species are known to be used for food worldwide. Of that number, vegetables comprise about 1,200 species belonging to 78 botanical families. Around 600 species are grown worldwide, while we are producing about 20 to 30 species.

Domestic varieties or populations of vegetable crops are grown mainly in gardens. These cultivars, varieties or populations were kept in breeding mainly by the older population for sentimental reasons or due to their specific characteristics (resistance to disease, low or high temperature).


Some of the old varieties and populations are:

  • beans popularly known as "gra' kuruzar" is present in the production for over 100 years, grown as a crop paired with corn called "bjelcic"; today is  mainly found in the hilly areas where traditional mode of production is still present; in the RS quite different populations are referred to as beans “kuruzar”;
  • Raštan, kale is characteristic only for the region of Herzegovina, where it has been grown since time immemorial; more varieties of this type of cabbage with specific organoleptic characteristics are present in the production;
  • Garlic (spring and autumn) is characterized by good preservation, each area in RS has some kind of specific population;
  • onion (Trebinjski jabučar) is characterized by good resistance to disease, good storage;  the so-called "tuber onions" which can be found in the area Berković (mountain Hrgud) are especially popular.

Beans in folk beliefs

According to Čajkanović (1985) the connection with the cult of ancestors can be seen in the fact that our people use beans mostly for divination and witchcraft during the Christmas Eve and days around Christmas. It  is a mandatory food served for the Christmas Eve dinner. Even when Badnjak (an oak log) is placed on the fire on the evening of Christmas Eve, a spoon of beans is usually put on Badnjak as "Badnjak’s dinner " (GEM , 22-23,1960,151, Petrovo Selo). Christmas bread "Česnica" cannot be without beans, (the number of beans placed in Česnica corresponds to the number of household members), in faith that he who finds beans in his piece of bread will be rich.i.e.have a lot of  sheep and sometimes other small animals and poultry (see, eg. SEZ, 32, 1925.224, Boljevački District, where white beans correspond to sheep and black beans correspond to goats). Beans are also placed in St. George's cake (GEM , 25,1962,199, Gornja Resava) – they certainly have a beneficial effect on fertility and abundance ( SEZ 19,100 , Homolje).


Onion in folk beliefs

At the beginning of the twentieth century, one of the most famous explorers of beliefs about the plants, Veselin Čajkanović in the book "Dictionary of Serbian folk beliefs about plants " (1985) pointed out that garlic has the greatest importance in the folk medicine and witchcrafts as compared to all the other  plants. The religious significance of garlic could be seen from the fact that it is served during the Carnival and Christmas Eve. In folk medicine, garlic is used as a panacea because it works where no other remedy can help. Onions were also used in divination and played a significant role in the folk medicine. It used to be given to new mothers to have more milk, in the treatment of insomnia, cough and more generally, as a preventive measure for all diseases.