Good starting conditions for organic agriculture in Macedonia
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
The agriculture is still a key factor of the Macedonian economy.The part that agriculture takes of the whole economy (GNP) amounts to around 11 percent; 20 percent of all jobs are to be found in agriculture. A special characteristic are the many small, extensively operating farms. Thus 86 percent of all businesses own less than 3 ha. The total agricultural area is 51 percent of the whole area of the state.
577,000 ha are arable farming land, 738,000 ha are grassland. It is of special interest that half of the arable farming land is equipped with irrigation systems. However, only one fourth of the crop land is watered regularly, because the markets for agricultural products have abated while the costs for irrigation are increasing.
Already since 1998, projects for the promotion of organic agriculture have been realised. Since 2003, there has been a joint project of the national consulting association PROBIO Corporation and the Swiss Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in coorperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and local associations in Macedonia. The project is sponsored by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency SDC and works on six levels: legislation, the development of clear association structures, training, consultation, certification and marketing.
The Macedonian legislation and promotion concerning organic agriculture are already far advanced. The act on organic agriculture of 2004 comprises the production of vegetable and animal products, their certification and inspection are in preparation. The main problems of the Macedonian organic sector are the small structures and the up-to-now very small scale of production which hardly allow an economical processing. That is the reason why there are hardly any food producers yet that produce organic products. There is only a small organic farmers' market in the capital Skopje, but due to the low production there is hardly a possibility to guarantee a continual offer.
In September 2005, 50 farms with 192 ha were inspected by the Balkan Biocert control association and certified by the Swiss certification body IMO, which means that these farms follow the international rules for organic agriculture. For this year, some 100 farms have registered to be inspected. In 2005, the 50 certified businesses were funded with direct payments by the government amounting to 1 Mio Dinar, which corresponds to approx. 17,140 Euro. Products are, among others, tropical fruits (figs, kakis, kiwi fruits, peaches, pomegranates), nuts, potatoes, cereal (rice, rye, sweet corn, barley), honey, sunflowers, cheese and vinegar. www.ekoconnect.org