Farmers mean business

 

 

“People shouldn’t think that the programme is only aimed at helping set up urban businesses,” says Violeta Dimitrievska, Head of Sector for active labor market measures in the National Agency for Employment, “Reducing unemployment in rural areas is a major priority for the Government and for UNDP.
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Officially, almost one fifth of the working force is employed in agriculture. Agriculture has always served as a shock absorber for the socio-economic and structural changes in the economy,” says Violeta Dimitrievska, Head of Sector for active labor market measures in the National Agency for Employment

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Rural areas are a particular focus of the SelfEmployment Programme because of higher levels of unemployment in these regions, lower educational and labour qualifications, and the prevalence of non-formal farming businesses. Recent research, moreover, indicates that some 47% of total agricultural labour is unpaid work. “Officially, almost one fifth of the working force is employed in agriculture. Agriculture has always served as a shock absorber for the socio-economic and structural changes in the economy,” says Violeta Dimitrievska, Head of Sector for active labor market measures in the National Agency for Employment. In the period 2008–2011, the self-employment programme alone has helped 479 businesses from the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector to become registered companies. Hysni Demiri from the village of Zhelino near Tetovo has been a dairy farmer since he finished elementary school at the age of 15. “My family have always owned cows,” he explains, “So, naturally, I left school to work with them.

I like the work and it’s a family tradition.” Despite Hysni’s experience and skills, however, the dairy business has changed and farmers like himself and his family have had to face the challenge of formalizing and regulating their businesses more strictly. “Because we weren’t a registered company we couldn’t sell our milk to the producers,” says Hysni, “So regularizing the business was a big part of why I applied for the programme.” Since 2008, over 1,100 businesses were formalized through the UNDP-supported formalization programme. Almost 300 of these businesses have been formalised in 2012 through the formalization component of the Self-Employment Programme. Registering his company has made it possible for Hysni to sell his produce to the HIP Dairy 73 in the village of Kamenjane. Now his family business is not only regularised and surviving—with an average daily production of 130 litres of milk a day he is now able to start planning on expansion. Hysni’s business plan included investing in more land and equipment, and following the workshop he successfully submitted a proposal for funds to buy machinery and sprinklers. With new equipment and new business know-how, Hysni is confident about the future and very positive about the programme: “A lot of the things I learnt on the course were completely new to me. Everything I know about business I know thanks to attending the course.

Despite Hysni’s experience and skills, however, the dairy business has changed and farmers like himself and his family have had to face the challenge of formalizing and regulating their businesses more strictly. “Because we weren’t a registered company we couldn’t sell our milk to the producers,” says Hysni, “So regularizing the business was a big part of why I applied for the programme.”

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