FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

SPECIAL REPORT: FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA

7 July 1999

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1. OVERVIEW

In March 1999, escalating civil unrest in the Kosovo Province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Kosovo) led to a large-scale influx of refugees to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, amongst other parts of the region. At the peak of the crisis in early June, an estimated 250 000 Kosovar refugees were estimated to be in the country, of which an estimated 150 000 were hosted by families, mainly in rural areas, and the remainder housed in refugee camps.

In view of concerns about the impact of the crisis on the food security situation of the country, a joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was fielded to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from 11-17 June. The Mission gave special attention to the impact of the large influx of refugees on the hosting population, including food consumption patterns, health and nutrition status and access to food supplies. The Mission's findings are based on discussions with Government Ministries and Departments and local authorities, UN and bilateral agencies and NGOs based in the country and on field visits to selected areas, including household interviews. In the limited time available, three field visits were carried out in some of the major agricultural production areas, as well as areas affected by the refugee influx.

The Mission found that the impact of the refugee crisis on agricultural production, food prices, and the overall food security in The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia appears to have been small thanks to the quick response of the international agencies and NGOs in supplying food and other types of emergency assistance. The Mission found no evidence of significant food shortage or malnutrition problems in the country.

However, the crisis has undoubtedly aggravated the general economic instability already being experienced by the country, as a result of which, the Mission noted a significant increase in poverty levels. Affected households are having increasing difficulty paying for everyday expenses, and changes in food habits were noted. The major factor has been the collapse of trade with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, one of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's most important export markets and a vital source of raw materials. The loss of the important fruit and vegetable market in particular is reflected in lower producer prices so far this year, and farmers' financial situation has deteriorated. Non-agricultural households are also affected as interruption in the supply of raw materials for the manufacturing industry has led to an unwelcome increase in the unemployment rate in 1999.

The Mission forecasts the 1999 cereal production of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at 759 000 tonnes, virtually unchanged from the estimated output in 1998 and well above the average of the past few years. At the forecast level, cereal production would cover about 80 percent of the domestic requirement.

Thus, the cereal import requirement for the marketing year 1999/2000 (July/June) is estimated at 117 000 tonnes, a normal level compared to the past few years, and comprising: 30 000 tonnes of wheat; 71 000 tonnes of maize; and 16 000 tonnes of other cereals. As in the past few years, the cereal import requirement is expected to be met mostly through commercial imports.

Against the requirement of wheat estimated by the Mission, food aid of 10 000 tonnes of wheat have already been pledged for families that are hosting refugees. The food needs of the refugees have been excluded when calculating the cereal balance. Their needs are being met through a separate international assistance programme.

 

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2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONTEXT 1/

The contents of this section are based on a variety of sources, including reports of the Ministry of Agriculture of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, World Bank, and Economic Intelligence Unit.

2.1 The Macro-economic Situation

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia became an independent state in September 1991 after splitting from the former Yugoslav Federation. In common with other transition economies, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia experienced major disruptions in production, employment and social welfare in the early 1990s. Economic management was further complicated until very recently by financial trade and transit embargoes brought on by military conflict within the region and bilateral political differences. Between 1990-1995, real GDP fell nearly 30 percent, the volume of trade flows dropped by about 40 percent, unemployment increased from 17 percent to 24 percent and consumption fell by about 5 percent a year.

In early 1994, in response to the difficult economic situation, the government introduced a stabilization programme supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. By 1996, the result of stabilization and structural reforms was beginning to show. The fiscal deficit, which had averaged 12 percent of GDP between 1992-1993 had been reduced to an estimated 0.4 percent in 1996, and correspondingly, the rate of annual inflation, which had peaked at about 1 690 percent in 1992 was reduced to 3 percent in 1996. By 1998, the economy of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia achieved a real growth rate of 3 percent, and the projection for 1999 was around 5 percent.

However, in March 1999, escalating civil unrest in the neighbouring Kosovo Province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Kosovo) led to a large-scale influx of refugees to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, amongst other countries of the region, and the ensuing regional crisis has dealt yet another destabilizing blow to the country's fragile economy. At the peak of the crisis in early June, an estimated 250 000 Kosovar refugees were estimated to be in the country. Of the total, an estimated 150 000 were hosted by families, mainly in rural areas, and the remainder housed in refugee camps.

Although a peace accord was signed on 10 June and, at the time of the mission, some refugees had already begun to make their way back to their homes in Kosovo, the crisis has been yet another major shock to the process of economic stabilization in the country, with particular implications for its export earnings and manufacturing industry.

2.2 The Agriculture Sector

In common with other sectors of the economy, the agricultural sector in the Republic has undergone significant changes since the start of the transition, but especially in the last 5 years. The sector suffered after independence from the loss of traditional markets in former Yugoslavia, but its decline was much less pronounced than that of manufacturing industry.

While the current cropping pattern is similar to the cropping pattern during the time of the centralized economy, since 1993, distinct shifts in emphasis are apparent. Such changes in emphasis may be noticed in selected indicators given in Table 1 with regard to labour, tractor numbers, irrigated area, arable land and input use.

Table 1: Selected agricultural indicators

Employees*  Tractor
No.
 
Arable land
(ha)
Irrigated land
(ha)
Fertilizer
use

(tonnes)
Agro-chemical
use
(tonnes)
1993 26 393 51 769 553 000 70 584 24 254 659
1994 23 440 52 036 553 000 60 686 22 859 540
1995 20 999 53 977 550 000 49 072 18 969 573
1996 18 354 53 554 554 000 51 677 10 339 556
1997 15 254 53 384 546 000 51 703 17 021 506
1997/1993 -43% 3% -2% -27% -30% -23%

Source: Institute of Statistics, Skopje
* Agricultural enterprises and cooperatives

By approaching privatization less radically than some neighbouring countries and maintaining farm size at a viable level, production of most commodities has been sustained or has increased over the past five years, despite a decline in use of inputs, as shown by the indices presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Indices of Agricultural Production (1957-60 = 100)

 
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
Field crops
123
140
150
142
149
Fruits (not grapes)
198
192
177
191
170
Grapes
134
216
203
227
272
Cattle
223
216
233
238
231
Sheep
93
93
98
83
74
Pigs
246
221
234
253
250
Poultry
422
413
401
417
384

Source: Institute of Statistics, Skopje

The notable exception to the sustained performance is sheep production, reflecting a reluctance of the emerging entrepreneurs to continue with the most traditional of production enterprises. This reluctance has been exacerbated by closure of important export markets for sheep since 1996, due to a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak.

The trends, as stated, mask fluctuations in the production of field crops from year to year and variations from region to region. Table 3 illustrates that cereal crop production varied up to 180 percent over the six-year period, whereas area only varied by 8 percent during the same period. The main cause of such variations has been fluctuation in the amount and geographical distribution of rainfall from year to year.

Table 3: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Crop Area and Production 1993-1998

   
Wheat
Maize
Cereals
Potatoes
Sugar beet
Sunflower
Tobacco (dry)
1993
ha
116 987
44 693
237 246
56 424
2 259
27 775
21 609
 
tonnes
249 789
101 063
477 822
103 455
55 102
18 841
24 002
1994
ha
122 031
42 719
240 154
59 697
1 616
20 833
14 569
 
tonnes
336 133
133 211
647 608
149 424
54 103
17 880
18 862
1995
ha
130 092
42 459
241 034
54 874
1 354
14 349
10 894
 
tonnes
381 226
165 652
724 835
152 449
54 607
22 290
15 683
1996
ha
117 486
42 031
222 163
48 916
1 998
16 501
11 734
 
tonnes
269 303
142 421
545 502
97 792
78 278
20 586
15 412
1997
ha
115 267
40 158
221 785
50 936
2 180
13 196
19 296
 
tonnes
293 762
15 7 234
609 551
119 950
72 249
14 902
25 308
1998
ha
115 396
45 904
224 112
59 106
1 784
10 925
19 622
 
tonnes
360 233
199 643
859 414
165 354
58 090
13 611
25 907

Source: 1993-97 Institute of Statistics, 1998 Ministry of Agriculture

With about 54 000 tractors working in the Republic with some 180 000 agricultural holdings, most families have access to mechanized land preparation. In the main cereal areas 85 percent of the farms have tractors. In general, only hillside and orchard cultivation is conducted using draught-animal power, although on small farms secondary and tertiary cultivations may also be conducted using horse-drawn or oxen-drawn harrows. Tractor hire for primary cultivation is around US$23 per hectare with subsequent disking, harrowing and seeding some US$12 per hectare, suggesting that full land preparation for cereal crops costs some US$59 per hectare (3000 to 3500 dinar).

The major livestock production areas of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are found in conjunction with the forested areas around the perimeter of the northern, western and eastern boundaries of the country extending into the hinterland by some 10-80 km. They surround the field crop growing regions, which encourages interaction and use of arable by-products.

The sub-sectors of the livestock industry have different provenances. The sheep and cattle sub-sectors have their roots in the former private sector. With the exception of 30 state farms in various stages of transition which may accommodate some 36 000 dairy cows, 90 percent of the cattle are reared on private farms in herds of 1-3 cows.

Sheep are found in the private sector in flocks of some 100-150 head, and have previously been the major livestock contributors to the GDP. In the last few years, sheep numbers have fallen due in part to changing expectations of young farmers, and in part to the 1996 Foot and Mouth Disease-related ban on exports to Italy and Greece.

The commercial pig and poultry industries are rooted in old state farms. The poultry industry comprises laying hens producing the entire national egg requirement. Poultry meat is almost entirely imported as is some 50 percent of pig and pig products. Both the local industries are maize based, and require significant imports of maize or maize based animal feeds each year.

Private farm-based pig and poultry production is based on back-yard systems using home-grown cereals and arable by-products. The cereal diets used are balanced by scavenging, rooting and grazing.

Whereas private/state dairies fulfil the wholesaler role for the marketing of cow and sheep's milk, the meat industry has no parallel structure to help develop either marketing or breed/management improvement. Further, in recent years a trend away from sheep's milk collection is emerging. Despite the clear value of sheep's cheese, labour requirement is high and isolated work in the marginal areas is not an attractive proposition for the young workforce. Sheep numbers are falling. By contrast, milking goat numbers are increasing rapidly. Goats' milk, produced in much larger volumes per animal, is easier to collect, and is also the processors' preferred commodity. Prior to the transition, goat rearing was forbidden by the State. Consequently no data are available and even now goats do not feature in the annual statistic returns.

Table 4 indicates changes in breeding stock numbers from 1993 to 1998. While, cow numbers have been steadily built up by about 8 percent over the six-year period, pig inventories have remained stable. Poultry numbers dropped in 1996 by 30 percent and haven't recovered.

Table 4: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Breeding Livestock Inventory

 
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
Cows
165 280
165 813
166 374
175 621
177 383
178 535
Ewes
1841 809
1710 338
1736 717
1232 890
1177 724
947 263
Sows
29 678
29 288
29 420
28 546
32 948
30 834
Poultry (millions)
4.39
4.69
4.88
3.36
3.27
3.27

Source: Institute of Statistics, Skopje

The most dramatic change is, however, in ewe numbers. Breeding ewes are the engine of any sheep production system and in the Republic they have declined by 49 percent over six years. Lamb meat prices are low as local supply outstrips local demand with no guaranteed export market. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia lost an important export market to the EC in 1996 due to an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. Since March this year, the important Kosovo market has also been lost.

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3. FOOD PRODUCTION IN 1998/99

3.1 Cereal Production

Weather conditions for the 1998/99 production season have been generally favourable. Rain began on time in the autumn and fell regularly through the main growing season until April 1999. May was drier than the long-term average but with soil moisture reserves built up by the good winter rainfall, the drier period had no marked adverse effects.

Figure 1 shows rainfall data from six regions located in the main cereal growing areas which usually contribute about 40-50 percent of the winter cereal harvest. The regions, which are well distributed across the winter cereal growing zone, show a very similar pattern confirming the noted trend that this year's rain has been satisfactory.

Figure 1: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - monthly average rainfall for 1998 and Jan.-May 1999 versus lon-term monthly average for selected major producing regions.








Seed availability for the winter cereal planting last autumn was reported to be normal. Sowing rates are generally quite high, in common with other countries in the region, at about 250-300 kg per hectare for the main crop wheat. However, for all autumn cereals a practice has evolved whereby farmers buy seeds on alternate years, using their own seed between purchases. No incidents of re-sowing were noted this year. Seed dressing is well established, a variety of internationally acceptable seed treatment chemicals are available for home use.

Regarding spring sown cereals, due to the restrictions of the previous administration there is no practice of using home-saved maize or rice seeds. Seeds were, however, available in the market as normal, no constraints in seed availability were reported to the Mission.

This year, tractors, fuel and spare parts were readily available for sowing and cultivation of both autumn and spring crops. Concern was expressed that spare parts for the older combine harvesters, purchased before privatization from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, may be in short supply this summer.

With regard to other inputs, the Mission noted that a broad-based purchasing policy of the private and public sector practiced over the past 10 years has removed any significant dependency on products from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides were readily available, not only for autumn-sown crops, but also for the latest sowing season in April or May (1999). The most serious constraint on input use noted by the Mission was that farmers often had insufficient cash to make purchases. Access to credit is very limited for farmers, particularly those in full-time farming. Entrepreneurs with urban property bases have less trouble, but rural communities are disadvantaged, which restricts the opportunity to expand and to diversify.

Given a relative pest and disease-free year, the plentiful seeds and the continued practice of herbicide use and/or multiple cultivations, autumn-sown cereal yields this year are expected to be similar or slightly higher than last year in most areas, due to favourable precipitation.

Table 5 shows the Mission's production estimates for 1999 based on Ministry of Agriculure area estimates. Wheat area is noted to be similar to last year, whilst barley and rye areas are slightly down. The maize area has been forecast based on early planting returns information with the Ministry of Agriculture, but as the crop was still in the early stages of development during the Mission, and will not be harvested until September, the yield forecast is tentative. The Mission assumed that, barring adverse weather, yields would equal those of the previous year as high quality seeds, fertilizers and sprays were all reported to be readily available.

Table 5: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Cereal Production by Disrict, 1998 and 1999
(area: hectares, yield: tonnes/hectare, production: tonnes)

      WHEAT MAIZE
1998 1999 change in area %   change in prod'n %   1998 1999 change in area %   change in prod'n %  
Area Yield Prod'n Area Yield Prod'n Area Yield Prod'n Area Yield Prod'n
Berova 822 3.25 2 669 868 3.34 2 903 6 8 130 1.00 130 130 1.00 130 0 0
Bitola 16 344 4.06 66417 16 930 4.19 70 862 4 6 4 368 4.31 18 831 5 750 4.31 24 789 32 32
Brod 218 2.03 443 194 2.09 406 -11 -9 323 2.40 775 340 2.40 816 5 5
Debar 370 3.20 1 184 405 3.30 1 335 9 11 200 2.85 570 205 2.85 584 3 3
Delcevo 1 756 3.14 5 521 1 580 3.24 5 117 -10 -8 980 2.00 1 960 980 2.00 1 960 0 0
Demir Hisar 1 720 3.00 5 160 1 794 3.09 5 543 4 7 920 3.00 2 760 860 3.00 2 580 -7 -7
Gevgelija 767 2.63 2 018 905 2.71 2 453 18 18 500 5.00 2 500 430 5.00 2 150 -14 -14
Gostivar 2 530 4.00 10 120 2 800 4.12 11 536 11 12 2 800 6.00 16 800 2 500 6.00 15 000 -11 -11
Kavadarci 1 444 3.02 4 363 1 692 3.11 5 266 17 17 387 3.80 1 470 370 3.80 1 405 -4 -4
Kicevo 930 1.90 1 767 870 1.96 1 703 -6 -4 680 2.90 1 972 645 2.90 1 871 -5 -5
Kocani 3 581 3.23 11 574 3 669 3.33 12 214 2 5 1 158 7.84 9 079 1 163 7.84 9 118 0 0
Kratovo 920 2.23 2 050 600 2.30 1 377 -35 -49 240 1.63 390 150 1.63 244 -38 -38
Kriva Palanka 1 160 2.96 3 430 995 3.05 3 030 -14 -13 600 3.45 2 070 570 3.45 1 967 -5 -5
Krusevo 1 450 3.10 4 495 1 500 3.19 4 790 3 6 270 2.90 783 265 2.90 769 -2 -2
Kumanova 12 913 2.74 35 366 9 380 2.82 26 461 -27 -34 6 235 1.82 11 361 6 337 1.82 11 547 2 2
Negotino 1 716 2.84 4 870 2 175 2.92 6 358 27 23 220 5.91 1 300 380 5.91 2 245 73 73
Ohrid 1 295 3.00 3 885 1 320 3.09 4 079 2 5 1 300 2.00 2 600 1 350 2.00 2 700 4 4
Prilep 9 595 3.16 30 366 12 940 3.26 42 181 35 28 2 200 1.80 3 960 1 910 1.80 3 438 -13 -13
Probistip 2 450 2.58 6 310 2 450 2.65 6 499 0 3 375 2.24 840 190 2.24 426 -49 -49
Radovic 3 128 2.90 9 074 3 278 2.99 9 794 5 7 111 5.70 633 330 5.70 1 882 197 197
Resen 1 360 3.15 4 290 1 310 3.25 4 256 -4 -1 40 3.50 140 40 3.50 140 0 0
Skopje Chair 1 954 3.62 7 071 1 950 3.73 7 268 0 3 970 4.00 3 880 1 105 4.00 4 420 14 14
Skopje Gazibaba 3 507 3.48 12 195 3 055 3.58 10 942 -13 -11 1 920 5.48 10 522 1 907 5.48 10 451 -1 -1
Skopje Karposh 2 004 2.84 5 691 2 107 2.93 6 163 5 8 2 004 3.00 6 012 1 524 3.00 4 572 -24 -24
Skopje Kiselavoda 1 891 2.82 5 340 1 430 2.91 4 159 -24 -28 1 350 2.00 2 700 1 270 2.00 2 540 -6 -6
Stip 4 750 2.69 12 757 4 810 2.77 13 306 1 4 484 3.04 1 470 452 3.04 1 373 -7 -7
Struga 3 335 2.08 6 937 3 401 2.14 7 287 2 5 1 905 3.00 5 715 1 766 3.00 5 298 -7 -7
Strumica 5 500 2.80 15 400 5 720 3.08 17 618 4 13 5 100 5.50 28 050 5 000 5.50 27 500 -2 -2
Sveti Nikole 10 430 2.53 26 366 9 630 2.60 25 074 -8 -5 350 4.00 1 400 360 4.00 1 440 3 3
Tetovo 6 293 3.71 23 328 6 231 3.82 23 791 -1 2 6 275 8.36 52 450 6 120 8.36 51 154 -2 -2
Valandovo 1 203 2.66 3 200 1 140 2.74 3 123 -5 -2 457 6.63 3 030 440 6.63 2 917 -4 -4
Veles 6 150 3.50 21 500 6 296 3.93 24 762 2 13 490 2.73 1 340 200 3.50 700 -59 -48
Vinica 1 910 2.97 5 676 2 014 3.06 6 165 5 8 562 3.83 2 150 550 3.83 2 104 -2 -2
Total 115 396 3.13 360 833 115 439 3.27 377 819 0 4 45 904 4.35 199 643 45 589 4.39 200 229 -1 0


Source: Ministry of Agriculture

Table 5: Cont.

      RYE TOTAL CEREALS*
1998 1999 change in area %   change in prod'n %   1998 1999 change in area %   change in prod'n %  
Area Yield Prod'n Area Yield Prod'n Area Yield Prod'n Area Yield Prod'n
Berova 1 312 2.36 3 100 1 385 2.36 3 272 6 6 3 629 2.75 9 987 2 958 2.73 8 079 -18 -1
Bitola 150 2.00 300 150 2.00 300 0 0 26 524 3.95 104 883 27 130 4.02 109 167 2 2
Brod 50 1.24 62 46 1.24 57 -8 -8 663 2.08 1 377 684 2.08 1 423 3 0
Debar 10 1.20 12 10 1.20 12 0 0 650 2.95 1 917 760 2.95 2 242 17 0
Delcevo 680 1.68 1143 640 1.68 1 076 -6 -6 5 243 2.61 13 681 4 675 2.64 12 358 -11 1
Demir Hisar 40 2.70 108 10 2.70 27 -75 -75 2 950 2.98 8 780 2 874 3.05 8 753 -3 2
Gevgelija 40 1.13 45 20 1.13 23 -50 -50 2 237 3.26 7 303 2 355 3.25 7 660 5 0
Gostivar 392 3.00 1 176 200 3.00 600 -49 -49 6 112 4.79 29 266 5 830 4.83 28 156 -5 1
Kavadarci 10 1.50 15 0 1.50 0 -100 -100 2 883 3.01 8 669 3 100 3.09 9 566 8 3
Kicevo 25 2.00 50 5 2.00 10 -80 -80 1 675 2.31 3 871 1 548 2.35 3 642 -8 2
Kocani 180 2.00 360 100 2.00 200 -44 -44 10 455 4.02 42 069 10 557 3.97 41 956 1 -1
Kratovo 20 1.50 30 80 1.50 120 300 300 1 695 2.22 3 755 1 260 2.26 2 846 -26 2
Kriva Palanka 365 1.65 601 80 1.65 132 -78 -78 3 735 2.82 10 533 3 215 2.98 9 580 -14 6
Krusevo 10 1.50 15 15 1.50 23 50 50 2 090 3.00 6 269 2 140 3.08 6 586 2 3
Kumanova 150 1.50 225 540 1.50 810 260 260 28 954 2.60 75 230 24 566 2.60 63 881 -15 0
Negotino 45 2.22 100 0 2.22 0 -100 -100 3 321 3.11 10 343 3 551 3.30 11 730 7 6
Ohrid 120 2.00 240 90 2.00 180 -25 -25 3 060 2.47 7 553 3 153 2.52 7 930 3 2
Prilep 655 1.70 1 113 500 1.70 850 -24 -24 14 853 2.80 41 574 18 552 2.96 54 888 25 6
Probistip 100 3.00 300 100 3.00 300 0 0 4 235 2.45 10 380 3 725 2.53 9 427 -12 3
Radovic 0 0.00 0 0 0.00 0 0 0 4 258 2.87 12 221 4 868 3.06 14 878 14 6
Resen 45 1.60 72 50 1.60 80 11 11 1 695 2.93 4 972 1 690 2.98 5 038 0 2
Skopje Chair 50 2.00 100 100 2.00 200 100 100 4 266 3.61 15 391 4 605 3.67 16 905 8 2
Skopje Gazibaba 162 1.60 259 165 1.60 264 2 2 8 274 3.98 32 916 7 553 4.09 30 907 -9 3
Skopje Karposh 120 1.60 192 120 1.60 192 0 0 4 593 2.91 13 373 4 211 2.95 12 433 -8 1
Skopje Kiselavoda 145 2.46 357 250 2.46 616 72 72 4 351 2.48 10 787 4 050 2.50 10 121 -7 1
Stip 332 2.28 758 247 2.28 564 -26 -26 8 804 2.82 24 792 8 278 2.88 23 880 -6 2
Struga 20 1.50 30 20 1.50 30 0 0 6 135 2.31 14 150 6 179 2.32 14 329 1 1
Strumica 13 2.31 30 100 2.31 231 669 670 11 423 3.99 45 540 11 470 4.11 47 167 0 3
Sveti Nikole 50 2.30 115 40 2.30 92 -20 -20 17 548 2.47 43 269 15 874 2.54 40 394 -10 3
Tetovo 43 2.21 95 43 2.21 95 0 0 13 851 5.67 78 473 13 634 5.70 77 719 -2 1
Valandovo 20 2.00 40 20 2.00 40 0 0 1 835 3.60 6 610 1 740 3.68 6 397 -5 2
Veles 70 1.71 120 40 1.71 68 -43 -43 10 550 3.24 34 140 10 731 3.63 38 965 2 12
Vinica 231 2.00 462 223 2.00 446 -3 -3 7 220 2.99 21 569 5 132 3.09 15 862 -29 3
Total 5 655 2.06 11 625 5 389 2.02 10 908 -5 -6 232 767 3.26 759 643 225 648 3.36 758 863 -3 0

Source: Ministry of Agriculture
* Total includes rice and oats.

Table 6: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Vegetable and Fruit Production by District, 1998 and 1999
(area:hectares, yield: tonnes/hectare, production: tonnes)

      POTATO TOMATO WATER MELON & MELON
1998 1999 Area   Change in area %   1998 1999 Area   change in area %   1998 1999 Area   change in area %  
Area Yield Prod'n Area Yield Prod'n Area Yield Prod'n
Berova 790 11.39 9 000 809 2 0 0.00 0 0 - 0 0.00 0   -
Bitola 350 94.29 33 000 350 0 200 45.00 9 000 545 173 300 52.00 15 600 400 33
Brod 97 75.59 7 332 92 -5 15 2.20 33 14 -7 0 0.00 0 3 -
Debar 0 0.00 0 17 - 0 0.00 0 12 - 0 0.00 0 13 -
Delcevo 620 5.00 3 100 683 10 130 5.00 650 130 0 0 0.00 0 30 -
Demir Hisar 370 35.00 12 950 390 5 20 18.00 360 20 0 20 5.00 100 20 0
Gevgelija 60 15.00 900 73 22 341 43.70 14 900 379 11 200 30.00 6 000 180 -10
Gostivar 850 20.00 17 000 800 -6 350 20.00 7 000 300 -14 5 20.00 100 5 0
Kavadarci 250 15.00 3 750 200 -20 478 16.99 8 120 400 -16 302 14.00 4 228 280 -7
Kicevo 180 15.00 2 700 165 -8 25 4.00 100 20 -20 0 0.00 0   -
Kocani 497 12.70 6 311 631 27 62 5.32 330 67 8 43 24.14 1 038 47 9
Kratovo 0 0.00 0 191 - 0 0.00 0 4 - 0 0.00 0   -
Kriva Palanka 460 8.45 3 887 460 0 25 8.80 220 22 -12 0 0.00 0   -
Krusevo 150 12.00 1 800 130 -13 90 13.00 1 170 100 11 60 10.00 600 50 -17
Kumanova 1 221 6.91 8 443 1 221 0 312 10.29 3 212 305 -2 1312 7.21 9 453 1317 0
Negotino 60 20.00 1200 65 8 110 24.50 2 695 50 -55 243 29.80 7 241 171 -30
Ohrid 394 14.00 5516 325 -18 105 9.00 945 90 -14 0 0.00 0   -
Prilep 550 1.50 825 500 -9 200 1.20 240 200 0 350 23.33 8 165 340 -3
Probistip 180 4.00 720 190 6 0 0.00 0 20 - 30 3.00 90 25 -17
Radovic 89 4.00 356 360 304 14 17.86 250 150 971 77 30.00 2 310 140 82
Resen 70 15.00 1 050 60 -14 40 10.00 400 50 25 0 0.00 0   -
Skopje Chair 600 25.00 15 000 654 9 200 20.00 4 000 303 52 400 75.00 30 000 403 1
Skopje Gazibaba 593 25.00 14 825 568 -4 534 27.10 14 471 473 -11 524 22.20 11 632 477 -9
Skopje Karposh 504 10.00 5 040 444 -12 501 10.98 5 500 385 -23 300 12.00 3 600 250 -17
Skopje Kiselavoda 375 18.03 6 760 319 -15 365 16.71 6 100 290 -21 580 9.83 5 700 560 -3
Stip 302 16.96 5 122 296 -2 325 20.22 6 570 315 -3 170 2.98 506 185 9
Struga 226 20.00 4 520 203 -10 60 10.00 600 48 -20 10 20.00 200 5 -50
Strumica 550 20.00 11 000 600 9 1 325 60.00 79 500 1220 -8 1 300 280.00 364 000 1 200 -8
Sveti Nikole 122 5.02 612 132 8 141 17.63 2 486 192 36 191 9.23 1 762 205 7
Tetovo 1 600 31.78 50 840 1 480 -8 450 23.78 10 700 453 1 280 20.50 5 740 278 -1
Valandovo 0 0.00 0 70 - 88 43.18 3 800 84 -5 150 25.00 3 750 120 -20
Veles 0 0.00 0 400 - 0 0.00 0 120 - 0 0.00 0 550 -
Vinica 316 7.87 2 488 380 20 105 21.66 2 274 105 0 17 15.88 270 20 18
Total 12 426 19.00 236 047 13 258 7 6 611 28.08 185 626 6 866 4 6 864 70.23 482 085 7 274 6

Source: Ministry of Agriculture

The Mission forecast the 1999 total cereal harvest at about 759 000 tonnes, virtually unchanged from the previous year's crop. Wheat output is forecast at about 378 000 tonnes, 4 percent up compared to 1998. The overall output of cereals for animal feed is expected to be slightly down on last year: the maize crop is tentatively put at 200 000 tonnes and barley at 150 000 tonnes.

3.2 Fruit and Vegetable Production

The well distributed rainfall until May benefited fruit tree and vegetable crops. Given a readily available supply of chemical inputs including fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, average to above-average yields are expected. Vegetable seeds are imported from a variety of countries, the most common, however, originate from Holland. Such seeds are readily available in the main production areas.

Early returns of spring fruits and vegetables suggest an increase from 4-7 percent in planted area, as shown by region in Table 6. Significantly increased areas of tomatoes in Gevgelija, Radovic and Bitola indicate the widespread interest in this crop which can give good returns and has encouraged expensive investment in greenhouse and irrigation systems in some parts.

Regions bordering Kosovo, namely Skopje-Gazibaba, Tetovo and Kumanova, show no signification variation in area of spring vegetables planted.

The Mission noted considerable concern over vegetable and fruit marketing difficulties as a result of lost markets to the Yugoslav Federal Republic, in particular Kosovo. Difficulties were expected to worsen in the coming weeks as the bulk of crop matured, and are compounded by a lack of accessible agro-processing units at village/municipality level. Wholesale market price information available to the Mission indicated that already in April and May the prices for some of the more common vegetables were somewhat below those of a year earlier.

3.3 Livestock Production

Livestock production in 1999 is noted to be similar to recent years. This year there have been no untoward incidents of livestock diseases, similarly support services are available and the well distributed and average rainfall is noted to have produced adequate supplies of forage. Maize and barley feed supplements will be required during marketing year 1999/2000, at a level similar to recent years.

The Mission noted that a stock ear-tagging scheme is to be introduced next year as a prelude to re-entering the EU market. This positive step should re-vitalize the flagging sheep industry. It also provides an opportunity to improve indigenous breeds and management practices if the farmers can be encouraged to extend stock recording for those purposes.

3.4 Agricultural issues and concerns

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4. THE FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION

The Republic has a structural production deficit for several major agricultural commodities, in particular, cereals, sugar, oilseeds and meat (other than sheep). In general, the urban population is heavily dependent on imported foodstuffs while the rural population comes much closer to self-sufficiency. Prior to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the cereal production deficit of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was entirely covered by inter-republican trade, particularly from Serbia (Vojvodina). Since independence and liberalization of trade in 1991, the source of the Republic's cereal imports have been diversified, with less dependence on supplies from Serbia. The Mission interviewed two of the Republic's largest wheat milling enterprises who indicated that they purchase wheat from a variety of major producers throughout the globe including other European countries, Argentina and the United States.

The Republic's annual deficit of wheat that needs to be imported has averaged around 100 000 tonnes over the past few years, but has varied according to the volume of the domestic wheat harvest.

With regard to the current situation, no major difficulties in meeting the normal food needs of the Republic have been reported as a result of the Kosovo crisis. Since the onset of the crisis the additional food needs of the refugee population have been mostly met through international assistance programmes. The most notable undesirable impact has been a considerable market surplus of normally exported foods, mostly fresh vegetables and fruits and lamb, because of the disruption to normal trade flows, particularly to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As a result, the financial situation of many farmers has deteriorated this year. Wholesale prices of the fresh vegetable commodities such as tomatoes and cucumber, which are important export crops, were noted to be lower in April and May compared to a year ago.

4.1 The Cereal Supply/Demand Balance in 1999/2000

The estimated balance for 1999/2000 prepared by the Mission is shown in Table 7, and is based on the following assumptions:

Table 7: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Cereal Balance for 1999/2000 (000 tonnes)

  Wheat Maize Rice Other1/ Total
Domestic Availability  408 205 17 165 795
Opening Stocks 30 5 1 - 36
Production (1999) 378 200 16 165 759
Total Utilization 438 276 17 181 912
Food Consumption 345 - 10 - 355
Animal Feed 20 250 - 155 425
Seed 32 1 1 18 52
Losses 11 20 - 8 39
Exports - - 5 - -
Closing Stocks 30 5 1 - 36
Import Requirements2/ 30 71 - 16 117

1/ 90 percent barley, rye and oats
2/ Against this amount food aid of 10 000 tones has been pledged for families that are hosting refugees in the period July-December 1999.

Table 6 shows that the cereal import requirement for the marketing year 1999/2000 (July/June) is estimated at 112 000 tonnes. Reflecting the above-average domestic wheat crop expected this year, the estimated wheat import requirement, at 30 000 tonnes, is significantly lower than the average of the past few years. Furthermore, at the time of the Mission, it was known that 10 000 tonnes of wheat aid had been pledged for the July to December period, to be targeted at the families hosting refugees. The import requirement for maize and other cereals, mostly to be used for animal feed, totals 87 000 tonnes, and falls within the normal range. As in the past few years, the cereal import requirement is expected to be met through commercial imports.

4.2 Household Food Security and Nutritional Status

The Mission did not find any significant evidence of either food shortage or undernutrition in the country, and the refugee crisis appears to have had little or no effect on the overall food security situation. At the time of the mission more than 250 000 refugees were registered in The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, of which approximately 100 000 in camps, and the rest in host families. Both refugees and host families were receiving food assistance. Rapid health assessments carried out in camps did not identify significant undernutrition problems.

Compared to other countries with similar economic conditions, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has a favourable profile, with higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality. Partly because of the acknowledged absence of malnutrition and consequently low priority given by the government, major nutritional surveys have not been carried out on a regular basis and there is therefore a lack of information on both anthropometric indicators and Knowledge Attitudes and Practices of the different population groups. Protein Energy Malnutrition does not appear to constitute a significant problem in the country. Obesity is prevalent in all age groups, and affects more than half of the adult population over 40which has been associated with high incidence of smoking, lack of exercise and excessive consumption of alcohol . There is evidence of micro-nutrient deficiencies (in particular Vitamin D and iron), especially among vulnerable population groups. UNICEF is planning a major nutrition survey for September as a much-needed basis for appropriate planning.

The general economic instability in the country over the past few years, undoubtedly aggravated by the recent Kosovo crisis, has however dramatically increased poverty levels in the country. The Government and affected households have increasing difficulties to cope with the situation. Farming households have not necessarily been the most affected. Agricultural employment represented in 1997 just under 18 percent of total employment and rural households usually combine production for home consumption, sale of agricultural production and other sources of income (employment, trade or remittances). The Mission noted that, as a result of the crisis, farmers were experiencing difficulties in selling their surplus production and many employees have lost their jobs. Unemployment, estimated at 35 percent in 1998 is believed now to have reached 40 percent. Affected households have increasing difficulties in paying everyday expenses such as bills (in particular electricity), taxes, social security contributions (with results in decreased health care) and pension funds. Coping strategies include changes in food habits, and in particular a decrease in the consumption of meat products. Maintenance of their productive assets is increasingly difficult and long-term livelihood systems will likely be compromised if the overall economic situation does not improve in the coming months. Farming households which were until now self-reliant complained that they were in a more difficult situation than poorer neighbours who received remittances, were registered as social cases and had free access to health services.

Traditionally vulnerable population groups include isolated communities in remote mountainous areas - which remain primarily subsistence farmers - and Rom communities, in particular in urban areas. Although they are unlikely to be directly affected by the crisis, they are certainly suffering from the constraints of an overwhelmed social security system. The number of social cases entitled to receive financial support from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy was estimated in 1993 at 22 000. At the time of the Mission, 12 percent of the total population (that is around 63 000 households) was reported to be receiving cash benefits calculated on the basis of a relative poverty line and amount to US$25-75 a month according to the size of the household.

4.3 Food assistance requirements

Although poverty is widespread, coping mechanisms of households whose incomes are strained do not include, so far, major reduction in food intake or, apparently, intra-household redistribution. While the government understandably faces increasing difficulties in facing its financial obligations (salaries, pensions and assistance to social cases), a major social case food programme is being launched to assist the population of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. From July through December 1999, at least in a first phase, households registered in the social case programme will receive additional assistance. Under a recently signed agreement, a consortium of donors (including ECHO and USAID) and NGOs (including InterSOS, CRS, MCI, and German, French, American and The Former Republic of Macedonia Red Cross groups) will distribute a food basket to the current welfare recipients who are in the categories of "most vulnerable", pensioners, partially employed, and unemployed in selected hard-hit towns. More than 60 000 families (that is more than the total refugee caseload at the height of the crisis), all of whom already receive a cash benefit from the Government, will receive an average monthly ration of 25 kg wheat flour; 3 Litres vegetable oil; 3 kg pulses; 2 kg sugar; and 0.5 kg salt. Although the rationale for providing assistance in the form of food aid is not clear from the agreement or supporting documents, this is considered as an income transfer that will allow the household to save on food expenses and reallocate its budget where needed. This will likely increase the dissatisfaction of families who are not registered as social cases.

Based upon its observations as summarized above, the Mission concludes that there is no need for emergency food assistance to the population of The Former Republic of Macedonia. Indeed the desirability of the continuing flow of food into the country (for refugee population, for "social cases") in a European context should be reviewed by Government and donors. Other forms of assistance may be urgently needed, in particular in re-establishing markets for both agricultural and industrial products, which have been disrupted over the past years.

The absence of significant undernutrition does not mean that an integrated approach to monitor and improve the nutrition situation in the country is not needed. The preparation of a National Plan of Action for Nutrition, with a substantial nutrition education component would be highly desirable.

Once the present crisis is over, the sustainability and appropriateness of the social case programme may also need to be reassessed and some degree of decentralization of the system for improved targeting should be considered. Specific attention should also be given to increase resilience of vulnerable population groups.

 

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

Abdur Rashid
Chief, GIEWS FAO
Telex 610181 FAO I
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495
E-mail:GIEWS1@FAO.ORG.

Ms. J. Cheng-Hopkins
Regional Director, OAC, WFP
Telex: 626675 WFP 1
Fax: 0039-06-6513-2863
E-Mail: Judy.Cheng-Hopkins@WFP.ORG

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