Serbia: Female led agricultural and recycling company improves efficiency

Arum Deč ltd
Deč, Serbia
Investment Size
€ 14,900
Energy savings
5.3 MWh per year
CO2 savings
1.9 tonnes per year
Woman-led business, reduced environmental impact, cost savings
Green Climate Fund, Government of Luxemburg

Serbian agribusiness improves efficiency with new equipment

With the support of GEFF Serbia Leasing, Arum Deč has improved its business with new and more efficient equipment.

The Arum Deč company is a family business that has been operating successfully in the agriculture, food trade and related sectors for almost 30 years. The company was founded in 1992 by Zoran Puača, with his wife Milena Puača as CEO. These were difficult times in the economically isolated Serbian market, but Arum Deč was able to take a leading position in vegetable seeds distribution in the country, and to become a major importer of agricultural machinery, organic-based soil fertilisers, irrigation systems, agricultural machinery and equipment for proper aeration of crops (mainly onions and potatoes).

The fact that Arum Deč is managed by a woman is yet another parameter that makes this company a market leader – just 18.2% of companies in Serbia are female managed. As Arum Deč CEO Milena Puaca puts it: “No matter what gender you are, you have the same obligations and responsibilities. There are 18 women in my team and all of my female associates are very committed to achieving goals. Commitment is exactly what I would point out as the key characteristics of women in business.”

The company employs 80 workers, and supplies the Serbian market with a wide range of products and services, from vegetable seeds necessary for initiating high quality agricultural production to supply of foods (frozen french fries, frozen pastries, various types of oil, spices, meat, fruits, vegetables) to hotels, restaurants, catering service providers and retail supermarkets.

As a result of their main lines of business, the company noticed the acute need for collection and recycling of restaurant and food processing waste products (e.g., used oil, paper, glass, plastic) and decided to start a recycling service to address this in 2008. Arum Deč CEO, Milena Puača explains: “I believe that through the collection and recycling of used materials, Arum Deč makes a strong contribution to a healthier and greener environment for all of us. Starting this business line and developing it in accordance with both required regulations and the needs of the market was not easy. Furthermore, there is a very thin margin between the cost of packaging and equipment for waste collection and transport and purchase prices.” Due to these challenges, the company seeks opportunities to make its recycling operations as efficient and cost effective as possible.

Arum Deč and GEFF Serbia Leasing
In December 2020, Arum Deč approached UniCredit Leasing Serbia, a Partner Financial Institution of GEFF Serbia Leasing, and selected an energy efficient electric forklift from the EBRD’s Green Technology Selector. This efficient equipment uses less electricity, thus helping Arum Deč both to reduce the cost of their recycling business line and to lower the carbon footprint of the transport and handling of waste and recycled materials.

The GEFF engineering team assessed the energy savings potential and financial and technical parameters of the project.

The new forklift reduces CO2 emissions by 1.9 tonnes per year. This investment reduces the consumption of primary energy (electricity) by 5.3 MWh.

Milena adds that in the years to come, Arum Deč will continue its operations guided by the principles of socially responsible business. The company’s vision is to lead Serbian agricultural production towards greener and more efficient production and additionally to help Serbian farmers with advisory and educational services to improve their business. Therefore, in the annual calendar of activities, Arum Deč is planning a series of educational events: potato field days, onion field days, lectures on organic and mineral fertilizers, as well as organising professional site visits for Serbian farmers to the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria.

The Green Economy Financing Facility Serbia Leasing (GEFF Serbia Leasing) was developed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and is supported by the Green Climate Fund and the Government of Luxembourg.

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