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.

 

 

Situational Analysis for Training and Education in the Agro Sector in the Republic of Macedonia

situation analysis Increased prices of energy and other commodity products have increased the costs of production and therefore the price of food. Macedonia also faces these challenges parallel to the challenges posed by its undeveloped agriculture. In such a situation having the right information and knowledge is crucial.

Training and Education (T&E) in the agricultural sector is becoming increasingly important and this following analysis starts with a general statement of the sector’s experts that certain changes regarding T&E are required. Therefore, the two problems that are identified are:

Does the Macedonian agricultural sector need a formally organised institution that will provide non-formal T&E based on the specific needs of Macedonian farmers?

Can it be sustainable?

Based on the above-developed decision making problems, the purpose of this research is:

  • To perform an analysis of the current supply of agricultural T&E and to compare it with the results of the analysis of Macedonian farmers’ demand for T&E;
  • To identify the GAP.

Variables used in the analysis of training supply:

  1. Providers – entities that are offering some kind of T&E in the agricultural sector;
  2. Methodology of identifying farmers’ training needs – used by individual providers, e.g. survey, observation, Training Needs Assessment, etc.;
  3. Type of training provided by different providers of training and their target audience;
  4. Provider’s delivery mode (trainers, duration, training materials, proportion of theory and practice, interactive lecturing, location);
  5. Price and willingness to pay – the price levels used by providers and their opinion regarding farmers’ willingness to pay for T&E;
  6. Communication channels – how providers communicate with their target audience;
  7. Evaluation practice – what type of methodology providers use to evaluate the training they have provided.

When we look at the organisations as providers of T&E like Foundation Agro Center for Education (FACE), FOROP (Foundation for Reconstruction and Development of Ovce Pole Sveti Nikole), and CISPOS (a sector within the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food that provides non-formal education), the positive side is that their core activities are providing T&E services in the agriculture sector. One of them, FACE, has excellent competence for providing technology training, because the entire staff and the equipment of the Institute for Agriculture is available to meet their needs. This is a significant competitive advantage in comparison to the other entities in this group. A serious problem of these organisations is that the financial support is coming by international donors (projects) in the agriculture sector.There are projects such as MAASP, Agbiz, USAID and other projects working on temporary basis. Even though these sources of financing cover large extent of their activities and allow for training with high level of quality, they come with very high indirect cost. The current situation has two consequences: unstable long-term financial sustainability and building perception among farmers that education is for free. Other significant disadvantage of the current organisations as providers of T&E is the absence of individual farmers as their main target audience. As we saw in the analysis, with the exception of FOROP, current organisations are mainly focusing on building capacities among potential trainers and future consultants. This is a model that can promise long-term sustainability. On the other hand, FOROP faces serious problems of not having stable financial sources (donors) and having limited human resources, bearing in mind that activities done in the organisation are on a voluntary basis. Their strategic orientation to start additional activities such as agricultural production, consultancy, etc. can solve the problems of financial sustainability but at the same time it can result in defocusing FOROP from providing T&E services.

With regard to high quality, focus on individual farmers and financial stability, projects have shown excellent results. Some of the projects are: Land O’ Lakes (completed), Macedonian Competitiveness Activity – MCA (completed), IFAD – International Fund for Agricultural Development (in a closing phase), Agbiz (ongoing), MAASP (ongoing); SFARM (ongoing). These are organisational forms that have stable financial sources which allow for extensive investment in T&E and training focused on the individual farmer. Projects, such as IFAD and Land O’ Lakes, have paid special attention to the individual farmer and technology training, which points to the use of efficient training needs assessment methodologies. This conclusion can also be confirmed by the fact that the elements of the T&E service (period of delivery, mode of delivery, location) are consistent with farmers needs and preferences.A model, which was identified in the group of organisational providers (eg. FOROP), is a model that promises good results bearing in mind that it is based on direct communication as the most suitable one for farmers. Projects have brought a lot of international trainers, who in turn brought international experience and modern perspective in every agriculture sub-sector. Projects have played a significant role in the process of capacity building, creating a generation of competent local trainers and consultant. The strongest disadvantage of these providers is their temporary nature. Also, even though they have set high standards regarding the T&E service quality, they have had strong influence in creating perception among farmers that training is for free.

The National Extension Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Agriculture are a group of providers of T&E supported by the government. NEA is an organisation financed by the government and operates separately from the Ministry of Agriculture. The purpose of this organisation is to support rural development in the Republic of Macedonia. A significant advantage of this group of providers of T&E is that they have the government and its financial and human resources as their stable support. These bases enable easier T&E commercialisation. With a guarantee of financial base encourages intense usage of the cost-sharing model and even the “whole pricing” model. More precisely, having stable financial grounds makes it easier to tackle farmers’ perceptions “not to pay” for T&E. Additional advantage for this group of providers is their focus on the individual farmer. Of course as disadvantages we have lack of marketing skills among this type of providers, lack of competent staff and absence of strategy for T&E. Most of the resources (both financial and human) of these providers are focusing on direct financial support for farmers such as subsidies or use of financial funds such as the program for support to rural development or IPARD. Instead of going parallel, activities for financial support in agriculture are not consistent with the efforts in the area of T&E. This indicates that governmental organisations have not made a strategic connection between investments in education and efficient use of financial support, both governmental funds and EU funds. Therefore, we can say that long-term strategy regarding T&E is missing and T&E is not delivered on a regular basis. Another significant disadvantage of this group of providers of T&E is the lack of experienced staff. Especially in the case of NEA, the current staff consists of young and inexperienced public officers.

Companies have also played a role in the process of T&E in the agriculture sector. What is very clear in this segment of providers is that their educational involvement has very precise purpose because it has the goal of satisfying their own interests through farmers’ education. This stands both for companies selling agricultural raw material and companies that represent the agricultural industry (processors, traders). Having in mind that their results depend on the quality of information they deliver to the farmer, they invest a lot of time and money in order to deliver this information to the farmer. This type of training is entirely focusing on the technology of agricultural production and directly impacts the results of farmers.

As a conclusion of the analysis summary we give a clear answer to the research question that a formally organised entity which will provide T&E in the agriculture sector is not a realistic scenario. Facing the situation of all four groups of identified providers of T&E with the current needs and preferences of the farmers does not promise a financially sustainable model. The fact that all four groups have their advantages and disadvantages indicates that combining the role of each of these providers would be a more rational scenario for a model of T&E in the agriculture sector.

The market analysis of processing fruits and vegetables – dried and frozen

processing fruits and vegetablesAims to present what constitutes this type of market. Which are the conditions and trends of the market, competition, future predictions and factors for successful market positioning. The analysis is the input for the second phase of the consulting package. This will aim at preparation of a business plan for those products for which the initial analysis shows that they are economically justified for investment.

The data used in the analysis origins in large part from secondary sources. The main data sources are the leading research companies, agencies and universities, statistical institutes in Europe, Macedonia and the region, and the leading magazines and shows of the area that is treated. The main sources of the analysis are the research companies Euromonitor1, Business Monitor International2, ИBIZVordl and CBI. For the analysis of national level data are mainly provided by the State statistical office of the Republic of Macedonia and the Central registry of the Republic of Macedonia. The purposes of this research were used some primary data from experts in the field and an analysis of the prices of retail.

A limitation of the analysis is the lack of detailed data for the sub sector of dried fruits and vegetables. This sub-sector is too small and is treated as an integral part of a broader field that includes more groups of products which include nuts and soups. Main conclusions of the market analysis are:

  • The main strategy of positioning is the production for other companies. (LSM with their own trademarks and private companies have already built a trade mark).
  • The establishment of strategic partnership with local and foreign companies is an integral part of the main strategy of positioning.
  • Dried fruits and vegetables as a sub-sector in the processing of fruits and vegetables is limited. What is indicated through this analysis is that the market of dried fruit and vegetables is too small, both at national and international level and as a result it does not provide sustainability.
  • The establishment of a strategic partnership with the buyers of great СОЗ in the Republic of Macedonia is a factor for success in the industry.
  • The narrowing of the period of payment to farmers in comparison with the period of payment of the purchasers of СОЗ is one of the key factors for ensuring a stable raw material.
  • Agreed production by individual agricultural producers is an additional model of provision of adequate quantity and quality of the raw material from the СОЗ.

Innovation

innovation in agricultureThere is an evident positive relationship between innovations and economic development in the countries. Innovations and technological advancements are considered as a founding mechanism for competitiveness and efficiency, and thus a strong driver for economic growth. Increasing the capacity of the business sector for developing solutions that create higher added value for the customers by meeting their new needs or old needs in new ways, is another concept that we will concentrate on. Focus on innovation will be put on those sectors that create the countries’ competitive advantage in the global economy.

Economic theories and empirical studies have demonstrated that innovation is a key factor driving economic growth and long term well-being. As the Republic of Macedonia strives to grow economically, it is important to strengthen its competitiveness through implementation of mechanisms that drive efficiency and productivity and create products with greater value added.

In order to stimulate innovations, foster technological development and create knowledge-based economy, it is important to develop a surrounding that:

  • Understands and promotes the benefits of innovation
  • Supports and at the same time protects innovators
  • Strives towards creating innovation.

Although innovation by definition involves implementation of not only new, but also improved products, services and processes, yet the general public perceives science and research as the only sources of innovation and somehow forgets about the incremental innovations that can have an equal and sometimes even greater impact on the growth compared to the radical ones. Therefore, it is immensely important to: raise awareness about the benefits of innovation and strengthen the educational system in a way that it will promote innovation and creative thinking.

The foundations for building innovation based economy, lay in the concept of cooperation, knowledge-sharing and joining resources. For a small country like Republic of Macedonia, with limited resource base it is essential to strengthen the communication and cooperation between these innovation actors. Therefore, this particularly targets the actors within the spheres as well as among the spheres of the triple helix model.

The legal protection of innovation is another area of interest. Creating a regulatory environment that will ensure that each and every actor involved in the process of creating the innovation (the innovator, the resource and infrastructure providers etc.)  gets an equal share of the cake, is not only one of the greatest challenges in the Republic of Macedonia, but also everywhere in the world.