Thursday, June 14, 2007

WB approves EUR15 million loan to support agriculture in Macedonia

The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved a EUR15 million loan for the Agriculture Strengthening and Accession Project for Macedonia.

The Project will improve the delivery of Government assistance to the agriculture sector in a manner consistent with the EU's pre-accession requirements, WB said. The loan has a five-year grace period and 17 years maturity.

The project’s development objective is to improve the delivery of government assistance to the agriculture sector by improving the ability of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy to disburse and track the use of rural development funds and evaluate their impact on the agri-food sector; paying EU IPARD funds paid to farmers in an EU compliant manner; delivering improved veterinary services to producers and agro-processors in a timely manner; establishing participatory, “demand driven” irrigation management; and divesting the state of financial responsibility for the irrigation sector.

"The project will help Macedonia better use its agricultural potential and move the sector closer to the European Union,” said Julian Lampietti, head of the World Bank team designing the project.

“It complements the country’s development strategy and the European Commission’s program and will assist the Government in creating better and more effective linkages with agricultural producers."

The Project is divided into four components. The first component will strengthen Agriculture Ministry's administrative and management capacity. The second component will support Agriculture Ministry's ability to deliver EU rural development funds. The third component will help develop effective veterinary capacity as part of the creation of a functioning integrated food quality system. The fourth component will complete the reform of the irrigation sector

The agriculture sector plays an important role in Macedonia’s economy through its contributions to GDP (agriculture accounts for 12 percent of GDP, agri-food for 16 percent), employment, trade and the rural economy, the bank said.

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