Project – SOMOCO

Report

Soil moisture content management as a tool for climate change mitigation in WB based on V4 practices (SOMOCO)

-Field trip-

(Bratislava, Slovakia from 20-24 March 2018)

 

1        WHAT THE PROJECT IS ABOUT?

This project serves as a process for encouraging farmers to cope with the climate change conditions and better adoption and implementation of the EU soil management regulations. Proper agronomic practices, such as contour farming, zerotillage, mulching and providing vegetative barriers on the contour help to prevent soil erosion and increase soil moisture. Knowledge and skills on soil moisture management can help farmers in mitigating the impacts of drought by conserving soil moisture, optimize the agricultural production and guarantee stable income for the farmers. V4 experience in soil moisture monitoring in Slovakia and Hungary since 2001 (and some V4 practices) will serve as a basic for transferring knowledge and sharing existing practices in Macedonia and Serbia.

V4WB cooperation in soil management in the regions where water scarcity is an issue, is of a great importance given the fact that V4 countries have significant positive results in this area. This experience and knowledge of V4 countries presents a valuable asset for the WB to achieve faster and more efficient mitigation to climate change. Better mitigation to climate change has significant impact on the level of production and farm economy in the WB countries. By implementing good practices for soil management in relevant agriculture subsectors will contribute for harmonization of the agricultural sectors between the two groups of countries that will have an impact on general harmonization of the economic level in the region.

2        FIELD TRIP IN BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA

As part of the project a field trip took place in Bratislava, Slovakia from 20-24th of March,2018. With participation of 16 participants from which 9 from Macedonia (1 Vocal and Educational Trainer, 1  Policy Maker and 7 farmers) and 7 from Serbia (1 Vocal and Educational Trainer, 1 Policy Maker and 5 farmers). As additional experts for the field trip we had 5 soil experts from Hungary and 2 from Slovakia.

On the first day our experts from Hungary held a short seminar in Godollo about the importance of soil management and soil characteristics. On the first theoretical part of this seminar our experts presented their methods, properties and innovations regarding soil management and characteristics. We had the following presentations:

  • “Soil assessing methods” by PhD Gergo Peter Kovacs from the Szent Istvan University.
  • “Soil physical properties and their relation to soil moisture management” by PhD Vince Lang from Discovery R&D Center.
  • “Mitigation of agricultural emissions with partial change of nitrogen fertilizer utilization and cultivations change” by collaboration of Szent Istvan University and GAK.
  • “e-Monitoring of low carbon emission agricultural operations in Hungary” by GAK.

On the second practical part of the seminar the participants were divided in three groups and had the opportunity to see different types of soils and give a diagnosis based on color and texture. Additionally, on the same day participants had the opportunity to see a farm with modern equipment for open field agriculture as well as a greenhouse.

The second day a seminar was held in the Soil Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia. Experts and professors had the opportunity to talk about the situation of their country, what are the ways to improve the situation of the soil and what is the new equipment they can use to help with their farming. Important presentations:

  • “Sustainable soil management” by Zsofia Veres from Agridron Ltd. Hungary.
  • “Soil water management in different conditions of Slovakian agricultural soils” by PhD Beata Houskova from the National Agriculture and Food Centre

On the third day participants had the chance to visit two farms in Slovakia. The first farm was an unconventional farming called center pivot cultivation and irrigation where the owner of the farm developed his own devices for irrigation and cultivation and farming. The second farm was big cooperative farm where apart from cerulean production 1000 hectares they had 1000 head of caws and more than 1500 pigs. This farm was the number one cooperative for production of milk in the region of Bratislava.

3        CONCLUSIONS

First day – Szeint Istvan University in Godollo, Hungary

Importance of soil management and soil characteristics. Everyone can differentiate a good soil from bad just by looking at the color and feeling the texture of their soil. By using the Munsel system for color you can differentiate the color. As two important influencers on soil color we have Iron and Humus. Diverse types of soil texture and their influence:

  • Sand – does not hold water,
  • Clay – capacity to absorb water,
  • Silt – micro sand particles, high capacity to absorb water
  • Textural class – feel tests

From our visit to one of the farms in ownership of the university we learned important information like :

  • They manure on foil in the springtime. The main aim quality, not quantity;
  • The university farm is profitability because it is also subsidies (subsidies remain, leave over). In general they are on break even mainly because they are not profit based and their main focus is on trying new technologies and o research;
  • The profits that they achieve they invest in precision agriculture (50% farmers, 50% state), they do not live from agriculture;
  • Based on the national strategy and EU funds the university farms are developing their research and development program;
  • How to make lower soil part to became as the upper one? The answer is deep tilling, for a long time and manuring

Second day – Seminar at Soil institute in Bratislava

Presenters:

  • Presentations from the director of the Soil Institute,
  • Zsofia Veres (expert from Agridron, Hungary),
  • Mihaly Layos (CEO from Agrofield),
  • Beata Houshkova (expert from the Soil institute in Bratislava).

On this second day seminar our goal was to understand the importance of modern technology in agriculture and how can they assist farmers in facing the current agricultural challenges. Important conclusions:

  • By 2050 population will increase and will create pressure for intensive agriculture use, with required increase in food calories for 50%, with more than 9,7 billion people to feed, population change will influence agriculture production – higher pressure on agriculture where population is growing, developing countries, challenge and problem
  • 38% of cropland has reduced water and nutrient availability
  • 500 years are needed for creation of 2,5 cm soil (humus)
  • Erosion pace is 100 times greater than soil formation
  • 4 types of degradation (chemical and physical) in developed countries + erosion (water, wind) in developing countries
  • Agriculture is decreasing, production of biofuels is increasing – global phenomena, it influences on food prices, there are big subsidies for biofuel,
  • Advances in soil information collection – multispector sensors, from satellite, drones, form sky or surface, detailed infos – patterns, spots, vegetation, technology errors
  • GIS – processes infos, collect, store, manipulate and analyses them, and issues tables, figures, graphs
  • Soil sensing – close to field proximal, small drones on small surfaces and heights
  • It is important how you draw sample from the soil and from where, on smartphone you can get results, extension officer can measure and give this service to farmer so he can get his results on phone and decide what input to use (diagnosis + pharmacy)
  • Soil scanners (Soil electrical conductivity) – it can be put on the tractor and makes soil analysis on whole field (advanced agronomics, saves money, lower seed rate, texture, soil PH, topography, it is not for yield increase, but provides input optimization for higher profits (fertilizer quantity, how to seed, precision agriculture)
  • Site specific agriculture – Agriculture adapted on characteristics of specific part of land, not generally (where, what and how much is needed)
  • Goal is to make the best decisions, use optimal level of inputs

Different types of maps and their characteristics:

  • Archive soil maps – elevation models, heights differences, google maps
  • Soil scanners – organic materials, PH, texture, electrical conductivity
  • Yield maps – covert in profit maps, where we gain and lose money, present the current year, we cannot use data from previous year
  • Satellite images –huge area, spatial resolution, different information source, historical data
  • 50 % of farms in Hungary are ploughing, new trends coming from EU
  • No tilling, special machines for that
  • Need of innovations for decreasing ploughing, years when is not necessary to avoid ploughing, not elimination it at once, if the land is good, everything is possible, if there is a problem (depredated soil) without ploughing it can improve

Techniques without ploughing:

  • Range of ploughs, ideal 20-25 cm, width and depth ratio 1:1, if the land is cultivated longer, shorter spades are needed
  • Trend not to use big tractors, save on fuel, easier cultivation, if spades are compressed it can provide bigger coverage with bigger tractor, light soil can be mixed better with bigger range of ploughs, more compressed spades for compressed soil, bigger range of ploughs bigger porosity of soil
  • If machines are longer, it is heavier to pull them and turn them around on the field, and they are more expensive
  • Grubber are best but are not cheap, grubber producers are competing but it depends in which land they will be used and on what depth with 8-10 km/hour, 80-100 hp is the best-important for mixing the soil, the weight of tractor is also important and how much weight it can bring back
  • Good grubber provides easier mixing and porosity instead of ploughing, problems are under 25 cm and there is no difference between ploughing and grubbering (grubber is more expensive)
  • Penetrometer cannot be attached to plough
  • Grubbering pays off instead of ploughing, it Is the same price but is important what you will do with the soil afterwards, it saves time and effort (labour), with grubber soil is immediately closed, one ploughing less

Second part / Soil scanning

  • To avoid defects, the process starts with measurement equipment validation
  • When precision agriculture will increase, it is expected more companies to offer services and therefore the objectiveness to decrease , them farmers will have problems to choose adequately the provider of precision agriculture services
  • With scanning, farmers can make differences between good, medium and bad soil, if the electric conductivity is good it does not mean that the land is good
  • Soil can be scanned by drones, satellites and maps
  • Scans should be analysed for 3 years in order to make conclusions or to make one year average
  • Data should be taken from developed countries in the area of precision agriculture (data for hybrids, testing), they can be taken quickly and directly and therefore, adequate measures can be undertaken
  • Biggest problems for farmers:
  • Urban people overlook them with underestimation
  • Envy due to subsidies from EU
  • 70% of people live in cities, new generation move out to cities, possible disappearance of villages and agriculture
  • Remaining farmers need to change, and adapt technology

Third day – Farm visits

Inspiring and very informational visit to two very successful farms. The first was an eco-farming where we learned and showed important aspects of different type of farming:

  • Ecological farm, model farm – interesting for visits, grows vegetables without government support and it is based on support of the local community (country not state)
  • Shape of Ecological farm – it is a circle, not a till. The reason behind this is that according to the farmer till is not good for microorganisms. There is usage of a spading machine, no heavy machinery, no fertilizers.
  • This is a 15 ha farm, 1 circle is 1 ha, which means that this farms has 15 circles,
  • Each circle has counter clockwise rotation, one circle 6h depth to 30 cm,
  • The farmer starts with its rotation before sleep, and spends only  7,2 kw for vitiation
  • Better soil structure, only volume not better, everything else is better in this Organic farming
  • Some information about the Owner – Engineer, visionary, he created the model ( replaced energy with time, because time is free and energy is expensive), great ideas that he puts in practice, patents for agro technical bridges that he uses, they do not degrade the soil, he builds them himself,
  • 100 % biological, it is made at home, custom made for his clients, he knows how much, what kind of vegetables they need and when they want them (he uses the world health organization recommendations to make the calculation of their needs, how much calories and vitamins per person in one family, he makes his own excel tables, databases and calendars)
  • The farmer has 61 families as his clients,
  • He has official certificate for bio vegetables due to bureaucracy
  • Water is not safe and so this farm does not use drop by drop system, no plastic due to ecological reasons
  • Irrigates with 5 machines for 2 ha = 60 000 euros, with sprayers, the machines is precise, water in the middle with pipes directly going to the roots
  • For more information about this ecological farm visit farmlandia.sk

The last educational farm was a corporate farm “Kocin” with 1450ha of soil and animal production of 1500 pigs, 1000 cows:

  • There are 70 people in the cooperative, shareholders
  • 7 000 000 litres milk/annually, are exported to Naples
  • Constructions build with money from IPARD funds, only one is building from their own money, difficult to get money from EU fund at the moment,
  • 20 tons of milk are exported daily directly to Italy with 7 tanks

GALLERY

Soil moisture content management as a tool for climate change mitigation in WB based on V4 practices

Soil moisture content management as a tool for climate change mitigation in WB based on V4 practices

 

soil moisture Since 1951, soil moisture significantly decreased in CEE and WBs (Calanca et al. 2006). This risk is further intensified by presence of WB’s lack of adaptive capacity to the climate change. This situation leads to problems associated with an array of agronomic issues including: ineffective soil drainage; soil structure damage; reducing land productivity and increased water scarcity, especially in some regions of Macedonia and Serbia. Measures like increased efficiency in water management through improved surface management techniques (including the minimum and zero tillage practices), could be beneficial in tackling the challenges in the area of climate change. Through the activities in the project SOMOCO-V4WB, a joint team of experts from Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Albania and Czech Republic will provide an access to existing V4 practices in the area of soil moisture management that can be introduced and implemented in the WB countries.

This project is funded by Visegrad Fund, an international organization that is founded by the governments in the Visegrad Group (V4) countries – Czech RepublicHungary, the Republic of Poland, and the Slovak Republic. For more information about Visegrad Fund go to their official website www.visegradfund.org

PROJECT INFORMATION

PROJECT PARTNERS

PROJECT OUTCOMES

Regional forum on e-agriculture for Central and South East Europe (13-15.11.2017 in Novi Sad Serbia)

“Precise and integrated response for sustainable farming”

13-15 November 2017 in Novi Sad, Serbia

 

fao regional forumFAO Forum on e-Agriculture For Central and South-East Europe “Precise and integrated response for sustainable farming and inclusive food systems”, that was organized from the 13-15th of November at Hotel Park in Novi Sad Serbia. The total number of participants on this conference was 114 representing: Academia, Government, Experts, Business sector, Farmers, Non-Profit Organizations and other organization. This divers structure of participants on the event was the base for the core concept of this regional event, that is establishing direct communication with each relevant stakeholder in the e-agriculture ecosystem with primary focus on Farmers.

E-agriculture refers to designing, developing and applying innovative ways to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the rural domain, with a primary focus on agriculture and food, including fisheries, forestry and livestock. Technological application, facilitation, support of standards and norms, capacity development, education and extension belong to the broader concept of e-agriculture. E-agriculture offer the unprecedented opportunities for accelerating agricultural development, however appropriate enabling environment is needed to realize the technology potential.

The objectives of the event was to (i) bring together agricultural producers and processors, public research and academia, extension agents, IT solution developers and policy makers to facilitate their collaboration and co-creation of knowledge and (ii) raise awareness on a FAO-ITU approach on formulation of a national e-agriculture strategy. This strategy contributes to achieving national agricultural goals that include development of sustainable food systems, climate change mitigation and adaptation and improving the livelihoods of rural communities, including smallholders and family farmers, men and women.

The event consisted of three days of activities. On the first day high governmental officials, institutional representatives and representatives of the business sector discussed issues in the area of policy, institutional capacity, infrastructure, business environment and academia as key aspects for holistic approach in more dynamic introduction of e-agriculture on the central, regional and farm level. Specific aspects of the discussion were how a national e-agriculture strategy can contribute to achieving national agricultural goals.

Parallel sessions were conducted on the second day of the conference. Several thematic sessions were discussed like The status of e-agriculture in the region and the needs for improved enabling environment, Sustainable intensification of agricultural production, ICTs assisted Food Systems, ICT assisted Climate smart agriculture, and Empowerment of smallholders and family farmers through ICTs. Moreover as a separate part from the parallel session’s companies’ exhibitors and project representatives presented their ICT solutions/projects that they represent.
As part of the Regional Forum, all the farmers were able to experience and see the latest technology and work of one of the biggest farms in Serbia Krivaja DOO. That represented the final day of the Regional Forum in which the participants were able to see the latest agro technology. The idea behind this field trip was to inspire farmers to use, implement this type of technology that would help with the management of their own farms.

The total number of participants on the FAO Regional forum was 114. From the total number 9 from the Academia (or 10.26 % ), 12 from the Government ( or 13.68 % ), 18 Experts (or 20.52 %), 28 from the Business sector (or 31.92 %), 33 Farmers (or 37.62 %), 3 Non Profit Organizations (or 3.42 %) and 11 people part of the Organization (or 12.54 %).

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FORUM AGENDA

PARTNERS

GALLERY

Pilot Farm Project – Precision Agriculture

pilot farm project - precision agriculturePrecision agriculture  Is one of the areas of agriculture and rural development activities in which the team here at Green Growth Platform (GGP) is devoting its attention.

Today’s agriculture uses sophisticated GPS technology and advanced devices that allow businesses to be more efficient, profitable, easy and environmentally friendly. With a lot of research and help from our partners AgriDron  the team at GGP spent last week visiting farms in Macedonia in order to familiarize farmers with the concept of Precision Agriculture.

By examining the soil of these pilot farms we were able to help farmers in Macedonia find out more information about their soil and the crop they are producing. By offering instructions of how to use this new technology, this precision agriculture management concept that is based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intro-field variability in crops will be of great assistance and value to our farms.

We would like to acknowledge the work of all the farms we managed to visit and express our gratitude to Bonier-Z.K Erdzelija, Uni AgroAgriaAgricultural Cooperativ-Eko IlindenDushan Kjirikj for the support during this past week.

 

Pilot Farm Project

 

 

Agribusiness association model in V4 countries

Agribusiness Associations in the Republic of Moldova

Training Academy for agriculture producers and institutions 

 

agribusiness association in moldovaIn February 2016, our senior consultant Nikola Trendov as a representative of Szent Istvan University took part in the project ”Agribusiness association model in V4 countries – a new perspective for Moldova competitiveness” which was held in three different regions of the Republic of Moldova.

Representatives of local farmer federations and individual farmers as well as experts attended training provided by common work of Szent Istvan University in Hungary, Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, the Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics in Warsaw and University of South Bohemia from Czech Republic.

The expertise was delivered in a know-how transferring system from existing practices combined with common sales of agricultural commodities and goods from V4 in the Republic of Moldova, which as one of the least developed countries in Europe is facing a number of difficulties in the agricultural sector. Focus of this project was strategic and operational planning of existing practices of local agriculture association in V4 and align them in the Republic of Moldova.

During the project, our senior consultant shared best practices of association from Visegrad countries, which have been discussed and adopted based on the national legal environment, possibilities and perspectives for association in the Republic of Moldova.

The experience of experts from Visegrad countries is proving to be a useful one, given that members of agricultural associations from Moldova will be able to take the best practices and subsequently implement certain development models.

Training and field trip study to existing V4 practices and some grass-root initiatives in the Republic of Moldova were organized as part of the “Training Academy for agriculture producers and institutions responsible for associations”.

Final output of the project was “Policy note for supporting the creation, organization and functionality of agriculture producers associations” as a guideline for policy makers for further development and support of initiatives that encourage agribusiness associations.

Usage of ICT tools as a key for empowerment small-scale farmers in South-East Nigeria

Knowledge transfer in South-East Nigeria for usage of ICT tools 

 

knowledge transfer south east nigeriaSenior consultant and expert at GGP, Nikola Trendov visited Nigeria with main aim to deliver experience and transfer know-how in the area of ICT in agriculture among the small-scale farmers in Nigeria.

The expertise in this project was delivered in few stages and one day workshop was organized together with representatives of Keystone Bank as one of most recognized Banks in Nigeria that provides agri finance and encourage small-scale farmers to invest in ICT.

Topics that were discussed  

Successful case studies from EU that show investing solely in technology will not ensure successful implementation of ICT applications if they are not interpreted and adjusted to the local farmers’ needs. The experts find out that it is necessary in near future to invest in a team and partnership between Keystone Bank and GGP which can effectively monitor and evaluate farmers in the usage ICT tools, as well as to invest in capacity development of those farmers who can ensure the sustainability of their ICT farming plan.

Therefore, second topic of the workshop addressed the complexity of the ICT tools and platforms that are not necessarily essential. The conclusion of the expert was that those technologies which are already being used by farmers should be taken into consideration and serve as very basis for further ICT tool development. For example, a combination of traditional instruments to collect basic data in the field, which is then recorded in Excel and subsequently shared free of cost with potential buyers in real-time through different platforms.

Last topic of the workshop was the statement of contextual factors which are obstacles for those farmers trying to use ICT tools on their farms such as lack of adequate resources (electricity, gender issues, limited network and internet penetration, local languages). Strategic approaches need to identify the specific needs of the intended users by working in collaboration between the farmers and partnership team GGP and Keystone Bank.

 

GLOBAL G.A.P SUMMIT-Madrid,Spain 2012

G.A.P.  Good Agricultural Practice (GLOBALG.A.P)

 

global gap summit madrid 2012Is a global organization with objective for sustainable, safe agriculture worldwide. Their purpose is with creation of private sector incentives for agricultural producers, to adopt these sustainable practices to make the world a better place to live in.

The SUMMIT, takes place every two years in a different country. With over 400 delegates from over 50 countries and over 70 speakers, this conference represents a perfect setting for discussion of the latest developments in agriculture and food safety.

The team at GGP was happy to attend this conference in Madrid, Spain 2012 to discuss the innovations and latest developments in the agricultural sector.

For more information about the GLOBALG.A.P SUMMIT go to www.globalgap.org

 

GLOBAL G.A.P SUMMIT 2012

 

Policy recommendations for the implementation of the program of drip irrigation

drip irrigationGreen Growth Platform with its focus areas like agriculture and rural development, environment and innovation makes research and analysis on all sorts of projects that achieve its goal. One of the projects in which part of GGP team was involved was the project of Policy recommendations for the implementation of the program of drip irrigation.

This White Paper serves as the key policy document to the Government of the Republic of Macedonia to formulate an effective funding program introducing drip irrigation systems for corn production in the Macedonian dairy sector. To adequately assess the desired outcomes of the proposed program, the White Paper follows these 5 analytical process:

Carry out an analysis within the body of the macedonian statistics and data related to the agriculture farming in dairy (cow) and corn farms.
Determine the size, structure, and key factors within Macedonian dairy value chain.
Formulate the economic impact model for each stage within the value chain positively impacted by the incremental corn production such as: (i) corn and dairy farms, (ii) dairy processors and (iii) wholesalers and retailers of dairy products.

Calculate aggregate economic benefit to the national economy to be induced by the implementation of the pilot drip irrigation program in Macedonia for advanced corn production, and the effective leverage on the public funds to be used in the program.
Propose policy recomendations based on the economic impact assessment.

What is the current state of irrigation and corn cultivation in Macedonia?

Based on the land use structure, Macedonia has a solid potential for high-value agricultural output if adequate irrigation systems are provided. Irrigation water demand is high and makes agriculture the top water consuming sector in Macedonia. Macedonia has approximately 170,000 ha of arable land under various irrigation infrastructure schemes, yet with inadequate status: assets are old and not operational; the locations of pipes and canals are inadequate considering the current farm size.

Thus, even though Macedonia has a solid agricultural potential, the future national agro-economical policies must take into the account two vital and inter-locked courses of actions. (1) Fundamental reconstruction and upgrade of existing water irrigation infrastructure. This is followed by (2) state programs for development of sustainable and proven water irrigation techniques and practices.

What new technologies are introduced and how they increase yields potential?

USAID Macedonia Small Business Expansion Project (SBEP) started with the implementation of the GMCI (Grow More Corn Initiative) with the purpose of demonstrating that through the introduction of new technologies and good agricultural practices – such as advanced drip irrigation and fertigation solutions – productivity can be significantly increased, thereby creating a positive effect on a macro-economic (but also micro) level – more specifically, by increasing corn yields, directly contributing to import substitution of corn, condensed milk, while concurrently growing the upward dairy supply chain in Macedonia.

The results from the GMCI pilot drip program are truly impressive. The initial season average yields achieved with the pilot portfolio amount to significant 11.4 tons/ha. Compared to the Macedonia average corn yield of derived 4.3 tons/ha, the after-drip yield is a multiple of 2,65. In addition, the total amount of water consumption with drip irrigation systems is on average 30% lower than the amount required under conventional irrigation systems, such as linear and sprinkler systems.

Measures for the implementation of the DIGC Program:
Measure 1 (2015): Introduction of a drip irrigation pilot program that is to be carried out in 4 regions (Skopje, Eastern, Southeastern and Southwestern), covering 20 hectares of land planted with corn, per region, in order to “even out” the efforts made by the SBEP so far. 1 Measure 1 is estimated at 475,000.00 EUR.Target: 80 hectares (combined farms)
Measure 2 (2016): Increase of the amount for drip irrigation for corn in the Program for Financial Support of Rural Development (PFSRD) and widening it with drip irrigation for sunflower to 300,000 EUR. Target: 300 hectares (combined farms)
Measure 3 (2017-2021): Introduction of a 5 year plan (as part of the 7 year plan envisaged with the economic model on which the Paper bases its recommendations) that will gradually increase the amounts allocated in the PFSRD for drip irrigation for corn/sunflower and will reach the area targeted with the White Paper4 . Target: 6,500 hectares (combined farms)
The introduction and implementation of the Drip Irrigation for Growing Corn Program can have a significant effect not only on the dairy sub-sector but on the Macedonian economy in general. The numbers that are provided by the metrics applied in the economic impact assessment are very convincing, with each of the three scenarios provided with this White Paper.All of the above makes the DIGC Program a key government policy for the strengthening and revival of the Macedonian Dairy Sector.

ICT potential in agriculture in Republic of Macedonia

ASSESSMENT OF ICT ADOPTION POTENTIAL OF THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR IN THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA

Center of Excellence and Innovation

ict adoption potentialOver the past 50 years, we have witnessed the largest cyclical rise in real prices of food. In order to cope with the challenges we need to recognize the importance  of investments which is crucial in more sophisticated and information and communication technologies.

The Macedonian agriculture sector is considered as one of the most essential sectors in the national economy. The agricultural GDP is around 10% of the entire GDP of the Macedonian economy, with slight changes of 1% in the past 5 years. About 19.25% of the work population in Macedonia generates income from agricultural activities.

The purpose of this study generated by the Green Growth Platform is to provide general indication about the current adoption level of ICT in Macedonia, and the adoption potential for ICT among farmers, which can serve as a basis for development of an entry strategy for ICT companies. In order to achieve these goals, the following areas of interest were identified:

  1. Measuring the current level of ICT literacy and ICT adoption by farmers in the Republic of Macedonia;
  2. Identification of the factors influencing the utilization of ICT:

o Technical factor (lack of appropriate infrastructure)

o Financial factor (price)

o Social factor (techno-phobia, lack of understanding of the benefits)

o Human factors (ICT literacy, knowledge and skills)

  1. Identification of the level of awareness of the benefits and disadvantages as a result of using or not using ICT among the farmers in the Republic of Macedonia;
  2. Determining the actual needs of the farming businesses where solutions can be provided through ICT:

o Tailor-based solutions (technical, tools, infrastructure,)

o Financial support

o Social support (education, know-how, awareness of the existence of possibilities)

o Training (part of Human factors)

  1. Identification of the adoption potential for ICT by the farmers in the Republic of Macedonia

The survey of this research was composed of four categories of questions aiming to identify:

  1. Level of current ICT possession/usage among farmers
  2. ICT usage for communicating with relevant stakeholders and information gathering
  3. Level of awareness among farmers for the potential benefits of using ICT to increase their effectiveness and productivity
  4. ICT absorption potential among the farmers in the Republic of Macedonia

This research generated by Green Growth Platform was conducted among a sample composed of 179 farmers, covering 39 municipalities in 8 agricultural regions in the Republic of Macedonia, represented by individual family farms, while the remaining part is covered by legal entities and partnerships. The interviewed farmers covered 7 different agricultural sub sectors: cereals and fodder, horticulture, fruits and grapes, sheep and goat farming, pig farms and poultry, mixes crop farms and mixed crops and live stock farms.

The research shows that rural areas generally have the fundamental infrastructure necessary for internet connection. The majority of the farmers have also invested in basic ICT equipment (computer and internet).

Farmers are aware that ICT is important for their agro-based enterprises. Nonetheless they lack knowledge about all the areas and the extent to which ICT can make their business more efficient and productive. On the other hand, the areas where they express willingness to invest are mostly connected to the tangible problems they face. Nonetheless, they would invest in ICT that will ease the production process and make their business more efficient. This is an additional conformation that positive attitude towards ICT is existent.

The cost of ICT is the main factor for decision whether to invest in such equipment. The reason why they consider price as a crucial factor in decision making, lies in the lack of knowledge about the potential advantages from such an investment, does not allow them to make a proper cost-benefit analysis. Therefore, ICT companies should put strong effort to inform the population about the tangible befits in the agricultural business.

Even though some farmers stated that they do use the internet for their agricultural business it is not popular tool for daily usage. However, the study shows that the farmers are willing to learn and even pay for such a training course.

Direct communication is still most commonly used media for communication with other counterpart in the sector. The second most used tool for communication are cell phones. This is mostly because of the lack of language knowledge and lack of knowledge for operating ICT. Therefore it is necessary to provide training activities as well as to create products that are tailor-made for this target group.

Another significant factor is the aging of the owners of agro-based enterprises, there are very small numbers of households where the decision makers are young individuals. As the majority of the farm owners are older than 45, they are still relying on face to face advice’s. Moreover, there is an obvious tendency to rather contact other farmers, friend and relative, than an expert in the area of interest. ICT companies have to understand this state of mind to be able to penetrate the market.

Climate Change Research at Cornell University, Canada

climate change agriculture and food securityPart of GGP team was involved in a study research of Humphrey Fellowship court at Cornell University. The research that was done is in the area of Climate Change, and how climate change influences the environment. The study about Climate Change was based on a survey with all Humphrey Fellow for the academic year 2014/15, coming from more than 100 countries in the world.

Take a look at the presentation or download at the following link: Climate Change Research 

Here is a glimpse of the research presentation in the area of Climate Change.