Agriculture should be restructured and we should use the money from the EU
Macedonia needs to comply with a large number of binding rules, and what is very important, it also needs to comply with the common agricultural policy of the EU. While that process is going on, there is an opportunity for money from various funds
In the negotiations with the EU, the agricultural sector will be an extremely big challenge, assessed the Chamber of Commerce, which is actively involved in all phases after the Intergovernmental Conference held between North Macedonia and the European Commission. Within the framework of Cluster 11, which is for agriculture and rural development, Macedonia has to comply with a large number of binding rules, and what is very important, it has to comply with the common agricultural policy of the EU.
The Chamber of Commerce warns that agriculture should be restructured as quickly as possible and the European money that is available in the pre-accession process should be used to the maximum extent.
- As a Chamber of Commerce, we have submitted two requests to the European Commission: gradual opening of structural funds and increase of IPA funds. It is especially important that we, as the Chamber, and the state, take care to ensure the competitiveness of our agricultural sector. In the area of agriculture, we had a series of requests from the European Commission for the purpose of establishing the necessary infrastructure, and this refers, for example, to reference laboratories, destruction of goods, etc., for which the European Commission has no concessions. Additional technical assistance, "know-how" transfer of knowledge is needed - says Jadranka Arizankova from the Chamber of Commerce.
Her colleague Vasko Ristovski says that one of the biggest limiting factors of our agriculture is the small and fragmented plots.
- Most of the agricultural plots are in the hands of small agricultural holdings that are not able to generate sufficient income for a decent standard and for the development of farm production. That is why it is important to consolidate the land. This is especially important for state agricultural land. If the state does not do that in the process of negotiations with the European Union, or if it does not provide an additional transaction period, the same will be bought by foreign companies at much lower prices to the detriment of domestic producers after the end of the negotiation process - explained Ristovski.
He emphasized that the situation in the agricultural sector is becoming specific due to climate change and said that it is necessary to react quickly.
– India bans the export of white rice, orange plantations in the USA are destroyed by tornadoes. The same thing happened with olives in Spain, the rains destroyed cocoa plantations in Africa. Where is Macedonia here and is the country already late in defining a new agricultural strategy? – asks Ristovski.
He indicated that the new strategy should refer to new varieties, new types of processing, larger areas that are irrigated...
- There are still some things that we need to complete as a task and to prepare the sector for EU entry, says Ristovski.
- If we want to develop the economy and the food sector, we will have to equalize the working conditions with those of the EU, harmonize our regulations and laws with theirs, harmonize customs duties, and above all in the area of raw materials that we do not produce , or we have them in small quantities. While the EU is developing a market economy, a contractual one is being forced in our country, which goes to the burden of large export companies, buying social peace. The Macedonian countryside is in an extremely bad condition and it is necessary to invest in young people who want to engage in agriculture - to give loans with easier conditions for the development of a family farm, to build infrastructure and to have additional subsidies for staying in the village. The concept of a smart village has existed in the EU for a long time - pointed out Ristovski.