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The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The land

The territory is mountainous with deep basins and valleys, with a combination of temperate and cold types of climate: dry summers and relatively cold winters.

Arable land and permanent crops cover 0.65 million ha, and permanent pastures cover 0.63 million ha. The main crops grown in 1998-99 were wheat, maize, potatoes, sunflower, tobacco, vegetables and melons.

Other indicators

Food import dependency: Food assistance continues to be provided by WFP for 20 000 persons.

Agricultural sector

The agriculture sector is the third-largest contributor to national income (after services and industry). The agricultural sector suffered the loss of its traditional markets in former Yugoslavia, but not as much as other sectors, and there were no big changes, because it had been privatized before the proclamation of independence. Macedonia (FYR) has applied for membership of the EU and is currently preparing the association agreement.

Agriculture production generally meets national basic food needs, but it is influenced by rainfall (contributing about 40-50% of winter cereal harvest) so any increase in irrigation capacity would have improve yields. Market demand has also considerable influence on vegetables and fruit production. The economy in general suffered a crisis due to the large number of refugees coming from Kosovo recently.

Land tenure

The family-based farms, relatively small, existing since the ex-Yugoslavia period are the basis for agriculture production. The “privatization” process continued in other forms and was not reflected in a big decline in yields as in other countries. The state is renting out, for a five-year period, a small part (10%) of state-owned land (17% of the arable land), but the cost is considered too high and the period too short.

Rural infrastructure

Availability of agricultural inputs is normal, but there are some restrictions due to limited access to credit for farmers and lack of cash to make purchases. The policy of the last decade has removed the former significant dependency on products from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Agro-processing industries have been privatized, and even increased their capacity.

Major irrigation projects are a priority for government investments and programmes in agriculture for the future. There are discussions concerning possible privatization of the irrigation network, currently state-owned. Here there are concerns that privatization could lead to breakdown of the network, as has occurred in other countries.

Seed sector

A new law on seed and plant propagating material entered into force in June 2000. It has conformed the former law of 1998 to UPOV, ISTA and OECD standards. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is the central authority for seed control, with a special department for seed. Austrian and French legislation were taken as patterns. Improved varieties are used extensively in wheat, tobacco and the main vegetable crops, but less for rice and maize. Production, processing and supply activities require a licence from the ministry. Private seed marketing has existed in Macedonia (FYR) since before the 1990s ('Semenardstvo' Seed Company).

Plant breeding

PBR are accepted by law and the country has adopted UPOV standards, but due to lack of subsidies there are difficulties in application by farmers. Breeding activity is carried out by specialized state institutes, and also by the University for a number of crops. These research centres have bred more than 70 cultivars of winter wheat, tobacco, vegetables, fruit trees, vines, etc. The research work is still financed partly by the state, and there is need for training, cooperation and introducing and applying new biotechnology.

Variety evaluation, registration and release

After submission by breeders or trade companies, new varieties have to be tested for two to three years in official trial fields before their release. The results are presented to a special Commission for new variety testing of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which makes the necessary recommendations as appropriate. The official trial fields are situated in different areas of the country, and are run by the research institutes. An annual fee of DM 450-500 must be paid for each new variety to be put in official tests, a sum considered too high by breeders and trade companies. The Ministry authorizes the variety’s use, and makes it public each year through a special catalogue of new registered cultivars.

According to an agreement with the Netherlands from 1995, Dutch seed, mainly F1 vegetable seed and seed potatoes, is permitted to enter the Macedonia (FYR) market without passing through the official trials.

Seed production

Seed production is under the control of breeding institutes and seed companies, but always on the basis of approval by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Higher categories, up to Elite, are produced in the research institutes, while Original and 1st generation seed are produced by companies or by private individuals in cooperation with trade organizations.

Seed testing, certification and control

All seed produced is tested and certified by according to ISTA methods in the laboratories of research institutes, with continuous controls also carried out during growth in the field. According to the new law, the phytosanitary certificate can be issued not only by research institutes, but also by big seed companies. Following enactment of the new law, severe measures will be taken to ensure that farmers use good seed.

Seed processing, storage, marketing and distribution

The same institutions dealing with seed production also carry out seed processing, storage, marketing and distribution. There have the requisite storage facilities, meeting the prescribed standards. For every importation of seed or planting material, permission is needed from the Ministry.

The main seed imports comprise F1 maize (from Serbia and USA); F1 sunflower (from Serbia and Greece); sugar beet (from Serbia); potato and forages (from Netherlands, Germany and Serbia); and F1 vegetables (from Netherlands, Germany, Greece and USA).

Seed research

Seed research is performed mainly in the Institute of Agriculture, but also in other research institutes that deal with seed analysis.

Seed training

The breeding institutes organize annual special courses on the use of certified seeds and approved varieties, on breeding new varieties, on seed health and on seed control.


Extension services helping the farmers are state organized in regions by regional specialists affiliated to research institutes. Special workshops are organized periodically on main production questions, and advisory groups of institutes contact farmers during the crop season.

Application of plant biotechnology

Biotechnology methods are barely used, but future introduction of them and cooperation on such items is foreseen in the future.

Plant genetic resources

The Genebank is situated in Skopje, in the Institute of Agriculture Research, where all the seed material is collected. In Macedonia (FYR), there is interesting germplasm of fruit trees, cereals and some traditional vegetables.

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