Agricultural census under way in Macedonia

191.jpgMacedonia began an agricultural census June 1st, covering individual farms, households owning a forest or fishpond, and other entities operating in the areas of agriculture, hunting and forestry in 41 regions. A total of 5,707 census takers or enumerators are working door-to-door, along with 613 regional instructors. The deadline for completion is June 15th. 

Every household in Macedonia will be surveyed. But only households that qualify as indiviudual farms — that is, which own 1,000 sq metres of agricultural land or a certain minimum of livestock, poultry or bees — will be recorded in the census.

The methodology being used complies with guidelines of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat). European experts say it is advisable to conduct an agricultural census every ten years, or at minimum one year after each new general census.

In Macedonia, it has been 40 years since an agricultural census was conducted, says Blagica Novkovska, the director of the State Statistics Office. Cost was the main reason, as well as a general belief that regular research into agriculture is sufficient to meet the needs of the sector.

However, officials now acknowledge that more precise statistical data is needed to draft a comprehensive strategy for agricultural development.

“The principle employed is door-to-door and our households should expect our enumerators,” Novkovska says. Households have the right to ask the enumerators to show official identification. The family breadwinner, or the person in the family who is most informed about agricultural activities, is required to provide the relevant information.

The government has allotted about 350,000 euros for the census. Initial data will be released in early July, with the final results available by the end of this year.

In parallel with the census, the government has started collecting documentation from farmers applying for state subsidies. The amount for agricultural support has been increased to 1.5m euros for this year. To support the agricultural sector, last year the government lowered the VAT rate for seeds from 18% to 5%.

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