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Cultivating success in Macedonia with the Grow More Initiative

USAID Macedonia Small Business Expansion Project’s (SBEP) Grow More Corn Initiative continues to bring success to corn farmers in Macedonia. The Initiative first began its work in 2013, installing drip irrigation systems on demonstration plots and providing technical assistance to Macedonian farmers with the help of local agricultural supply company MAGAN-MAK throughout the regions of Polog and Pelagonija in an effort to increase their yields of corn grain and silage. The results of this project have been impressive—on average, all 40 pilot farmers from Polog and Pelagonija have increased their yields of corn grain by 48% and corn silage by 52%. The drip system enables 95% of the water and fertilizer to be absorbed by the plant. Irrigation with the drip system also brings other added benefits: the system requires, on average, five times less labor time than other methods, it does not wash away the fertile layer of soil as compared to open-field or flood irrigation, farmers use water and fertilizers more efficiently, and farmers that use the corn silage for their dairy cows are producing greater quantities and quality of milk. All of these improvements will lead to increased incomes, job creation, better products, and economic growth for the communities in the Polog and Pelagonija regions.

Poised to lower Macedonia’s current 60,000 ton corn deficit, the project has been so successful in increasing corn yields that the government of Macedonia is now offering its support. Zoran Konjanovski, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Macedonia, announced that due to the Initiative’s fantastic results, the Ministry of Agriculture plans to include this production approach in the National Development Program for next year. All corn producers that apply for aid will receive such aid; specifically, the Ministry will subsidize 50% of the cost of the drip irrigation systems for corn. SBEP is also exploring partnerships with leading dairy firms to help finance the systems for the farmers within their supply chains.

To learn more about the Initiative and to hear from farmers who participated in the project, watch the video below. You can also see it here on USAID's website.

Published March 2014