11th June 2021, Skopje – Under the Agriculture Modernization Project, being part of the 4-year Country Partnership Framework, EUR 50 million will be provided for promotion of agriculture, by establishing agricultural and food distribution system, construction or purchasing and distribution centers, training and advisory services for farmers, better absorption of European Funds, as well as creating a system for disposal of animal by-products. This was pointed out at the press-conference held on Friday, whereat Minister of Finance, Fatmir Besimi, World Bank Country Manager, Massimiliano Paolucci and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, Ajranit Hoxha presented the respective Project.
For the purpose of financing the Agriculture Modernization Project, EUR 46 million has been provided from the World Bank and EUR 4 million as EU grant funds. World Bank funds been allocated under exceptionally favorable conditions, with 12-year repayment period, including a 4-year grace period and 6-month EURIBOR interest rate plus fixed spread, accounting for 0.1% at present.
– Share of agriculture value added in Gross Domestic Product in our country accounts for around 10%. If one takes into account that one half of the territory of our country is agricultural land, the GDP potential thereof is much greater. Systemic solutions are needed, which will provide for greater mass production with better quality, thus making the production more competitive, coupled by networking and creating a good system for secure marketing of agricultural products, as well as improved institutional capacities, particularly in terms of absorbing the European Funds. Agriculture Modernization Project, for which Financing Agreement was signed with World Bank Country Manager, Massimiliano Paolucci, is aimed at boosting the competitiveness, as well as enhancing the institutional capacities of the agriculture sector, thus providing easier access to the European Funds. This Project will provide for improving the quality of agricultural products and introducing agricultural production standards, thus increasing the value and the competitiveness of agricultural products on international markets. Furthermore, enhancement of the institutional capacities has been envisaged in terms of preparation and implementation of programs for agriculture and rural development, as well as improved absorption of European Funds. In addition, the Project envisages the establishment of a system for management of state-owned agricultural land, as well as a system for disposal of animal by-products – Minister of Finance, Fatmir Besimi pointed out.
World Bank Country Manager, Massimiliano Paolucci, pointed out that we do not fully exploit the potential of agriculture due to low productivity, lack of access to new technologies and market opportunities, as well as limited knowledge as regards management and marketing by smaller farmers and agri-businesses. This is also due to the poor post-harvest management and practices, including poor sorting and grading, as well as unsuitable packaging for transport, thus undermining product freshness and quality. In addition, North Macedonia has limited and technically outdated cold storage capacities that need to be modernized, requiring establishment of technologically advanced collection and conditioning centers and a food hub with adequate logistical arrangements, which will provide a full range of grading, sorting, and packing services that meet buyers’ quality and delivery requirements.
– New Agriculture Modernization Project will address some of the aforementioned issues. By rendering advisory services, sharing knowledge and establishing purchasing and distribution centers, the Project aims to encourage the modernization, which will lead to improved production practices and accordingly increased access to domestic and international markets – Paolucci said.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, Ajranit Hoxha stressed the strong agricultural development component of this Project, having a significant positive impact on the domestic economy as a whole.
– Project comprises several components, with the “Promotion of Competitiveness in Agriculture Sector” Component as the most significant for farmers, amounting to total of EUR 32 million, covering construction of Agri-Food Platform in Skopje, purchasing and distribution centers in Strumica and Resen, as well as increased access to advisory services for the agricultural producers and the agribusiness sector – Minister Hoxha said.
He went on that Agri – Food Platform in Skopje, covering Polog and Kumanovo regions, will comprise purchasing and distribution center, contemporary “dry” warehouse facilities, cold storage equipment, the performances of which are a novelty in our country, as well as a special technical area, which will comprise truck cleaning station, trucks and cold equipment repair station, auxiliary equipment for the platform as a waste sorting point. By making investments in the construction of purchasing and distribution centers in Resen and Strumica, many ongoing issues will be resolved and plenty of improvements will be accomplished, such as improved supply in safe and standardized fresh food products, easier access to the market for local producers, thus also overcoming the issues related to storing and keeping of agricultural products, from the largest fruit and vegetables production regions, such as Prespa and Strumica regions, which will contribute to standardized production in large quantities and commercialization on the domestic and the international market.
Project will provide for increasing the access for the agricultural producers and the agri-business sector to high-quality targeted advisory services, broader education for better project implementation, as well as improving the varieties, by targeting the most demanded varieties of fruit and vegetables, introduction of Global Good Agricultural Practices, greater development of organic agriculture and introduction of techniques for fight against climate changes.
Construction of a factory for processing of animal by-products is also planned under the Projects, thus meeting another requirement by the Republic of North Macedonia as regards the harmonization with the EU standards and regulations.