|dc.description.abstract||Agriculture of the Kingdom of Serbia has not been subject to more extensive scientific research, even though it represented the basic economic activity in this area until the mid-20th century. The aim of this study is to present one of the most important periods in the history of agriculture of Serbia and point to the changes and processes that marked the beginning of the transformation of the traditional agricultural production into the modern one. The initiators of this process were the Serbian agricultural society, the Ministry of National Economy and the General Federation of Serbian agricultural cooperatives, as well as a number of individuals, experts in various fields of agriculture and animal husbandry. Thanks to their actions, just before the start of the Balkan wars and the First World War production of new varieties of crops and livestock and the use of modern agricultural devices have started, and the agricultural literature has become widespread.
At the end of the first decade of the 20th century, the proportion of rural population in the total population was 87%. In the same period, even greater part of the population made its living from agriculture. The majority of farmers cultivated their own land. These estates were usually up to 5 hectares. This bond with the land will leave a mark on the economic and political life of the region to this day. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Serbia was the country with the youngest population in Europe, and the Kingdom of Serbia was one of the demographically progressive, young societies. This society has also been largely ethnically monolithic as the Serbs made up about 90 percent of the population. In the countryside this was even more evident. The largest part of families had between six and ten members, while large families with more than 10 members accounted for only 2.5% of the total number of families. Relief and economic activity have caused the existence of two basic types of rural settlements in Serbia: Starovlaški type and Timok type. Under the influence of state regulation Mačvanski type was created.
Agriculture was under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance until the adoption of the Law on Organization of the Ministry of National Economy on 21 December 1882. By this law, the Ministry of National Economy and the Department of Agricultural and Animal Husbandry took over the care of the development of agriculture in Serbia. The Topčiderska economy, the State ergela, agricultural schools, nursery gardens and agricultural stations were under the jurisdiction of the Department. In addition to state institutions, was by the Serbian agricultural society, founded in 1868, and agricultural cooperatives were working to improve agriculture as well. In the period from 1878 to 1912, Serbia has issued several laws regarding certain branches of agriculture, agricultural institutions, as well as measures for the protection of crops and farmland, livestock, facilities and devices.
The largest part of cultivated lands in the Kingdom of Serbia was under arable crops. The farming in Serbia developed due to favorable climate and soil quality, and the arable products were usually of very good quality. Serbian peasant sow corn on the first place and then wheat, oats and rye. Wheat was grown as a winter and a spring crop, but much larger areas were under winter wheat. After corn and wheat, farmers cultivated oats, used to feed livestock, and exported in large quantities. The hemp was the mostly cultivated industrial crop. Much smaller area was under flax and tobacco. The cultivation of sugar beet started in the early 20th century. There were extremely favorable conditions for the development of horticulture as well. The most cultivated fruit was plum, occupying three quarters of the total area under orchards. Apples and pears were also cultivated, as well as walnuts, cherries and sour cherries. The cultivation of apricots, peaches and quince was not so common. Plums were used mainly for making brandy and drying, then for making jam, and very small amounts were used in raw state. The development of viticulture was stopped with the emergence of phylloxera. It was first recorded in 1882 in Smederevo vineyards. The Law improvement of viticulture in 1895 enabled prevention of phylloxera and renewal of vineyards. This law stipulated, first of all, opening of public and private nurseries of American vines. Olericulture was only side activity of Serbian farmers. Vegetables are mainly grown for domestic use, while larger amounts of vegetable crops were produced only near urban settlements.
In Serbia, until the 20th century, cattle were the most important domestic animals. They had extremely important role in agriculture as towing and driving force, as well as in the transfer of cargo, especially in the hilly and marshy lands, where their use was safer than the use of horses. In addition, cattle give meat, skin, fat and milk. In the late 19th and early 20th century, breeding of cattle was still oriented to the household rather than the market. Although the natural conditions in Serbia are very suitable for the development of horse breeding, it was underdeveloped because the horse breeding was associated with greater knowledge, effort and costs. The development of pig breeding was related to almost inexhaustible fodder base and biological properties of the pig, which is comparatively fast growing and multi-fertile. Sheep in most parts of Serbia were the most widespread and favorite domestic animals. Their breeding was the most traditional branch of agriculture which, at certain moments and in certain areas, exceeded even farming. Apart from raising sheep, Serbia had a developed breeding of goats. Apiculture products were among the most important Serbian export items until the 19th century. Bees were kept in traditional hives called trmka. The turning point in the development of beekeeping represents the transition from old to new beehives with movable honeycombs, which allowed leaving old way of reproduction of bee colonies. The Kingdom of Serbia, as a country with developed farming, had a significant precondition for advanced poultry. Favorable price of poultry meat, which was higher than the price of other types of meat, contributed to the increase in the production of poultry meat and eggs. Strong demand in domestic and foreign markets affected the start of significant investment in keeping the production of poultry.
Livestock represented the most important trade item, both in the domestic and foreign markets. All kinds of oxen and sheep, poultry and horses were exported. The biggest part of the traffic on the village fairs was related to the cattle trade. Pig trade was specifically regulated by the state since pigs represented the most important export item for long time. In the late 19th century, poultry has become one of the most important branches of agriculture, bringing export revenues.
Although the Kingdom of Serbia produced a lot of milk, its main part was processed within the agricultural households, while only surpluses were sold. Modern methods of processing milk, were applied only in those few institutions and cooperatives as were the Cheese Section under the Agricultural School in Kraljevo and the special Department of the National Livestock Bureau. In the early 20th century opened the first private dairy companies in Serbia, in Smederevo, Belgrade and Nis.
Unlike dairy products, which represented, along with bread, the basis of nutrition of the rural population, meat, bacon and fat were consumed to a much lesser extent. Surpluses of wool, leather, meat, bacon, fat and tallow, which would not be used in rural households and their household industries, became the raw material in artisan and industrial production or export.||en