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EU-financed land consolidation effort kicks off in Skopje

Fragmentation of agricultural land and small plot sizes in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The vast majority of agricultural holdings in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are less than 2 hectares, made up of multiple parcels – 7 on average. This fragmentation of agricultural land is one of the greatest challenges for the country’s agricultural sector, having adverse effects on the productivity, competitiveness and efficiency of farms, and preventing further modernization and economies of scale.

The European Union recently allocated financial assistance in order to help agricultural land owners and rural communities address the problem of land fragmentation.

Entitled, “Mainstreaming of the National Land Consolidation Programme” – or MAINLAND – the project will be implemented by FAO in cooperation with the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy. With a value of EUR 2.5 million, it will run for 3.5 years. An official launch event took place on 8 May in Skopje.

The new project builds directly on the experiences of an earlier project implemented and funded by FAO from 2014 to 2017, focused on testing the legal framework, offering legal recommendations, and providing training and capacity development were provided.

The initiative will support agricultural land consolidation, a process of grouping land parcels, aiming to enlarge them, optimize farm holdings and establish necessary infrastructure including roads and irrigation. Land consolidation directly increases efficiency in agricultural production and contributes to improvement of living standards in rural communities.
The main beneficiaries are smallholders and family farms, while main partners are the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, the Agency for Real Estate Cadastre, the National Extension Agency, local self-governments and organizations representing agricultural land owners and users.

As the project’s main institutional beneficiary, the Ministry will build its technical and administrative capacity to manage and implement the National Land Consolidation Programme.

Some 50 people attended the launch event, including representatives of project partners and other involved groups: the Delegation of the European Union in Skopje, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, the Agency for Real Estate Cadastre, the National Extension Agency, the Agency for Financial Support to Agriculture and Rural Development, the Chamber of Certified Engineers, the Association of the Units of Local Self-government of the Country, the Federation of Farmers, the Faculty of Agriculture Sciences and Food, the Agriculture Institute, and representatives of civil society and the media.

“A land consolidation project, like the one about to begin in The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, can be a golden opportunity for rural communities,” said FAO land tenure expert Morten Hartvigsen. “FAO is pleased to be working with the Ministry and with the European Union Delegation in Skopje, to implement this important project where all parties stand to win.”

16 May 2017, Skopje, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

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