Macedonia is in the process of acquiring full membership of the European Union (EU) and has received Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance for Rural Development (IPARD) funding. This funding helps to promote sustainable agriculture, to modernize farming and to prepare farmers to comply with EU regulations.
Agriculture has the potential to be the key economic driver in eastern Macedonia; however, production is low because farmers rely on traditional farming methods and use outdated equipment. In 2012, the government made €120 million (about US$164 million) available for agricultural subsidies. But accessing funding is complex, and increasingly, farmers are expected to apply for grants online.
The innovative service
With support from the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) in 2011, the library equipped their mobile library van, the INFOBUS, with laptop computers and high speed internet, and stocked the bus with books and journals on agricultural issues. Using the INFOBUS, the library travels to villages that do not have libraries and provides ICT training and organizes information events for farmers.
The library worked with the Office of Rural Development, Goce Delcev University-Stip; the Agency for Financial Support/Agricultural and Rural Development and the local non-governmental organization Sinergija.
In less than a year (2011/12) librarians and their partners organized 30 seminars attracting 357 participants; provided individual guidance for 145 farmers to apply for grants, and trained 42 farmers to use computers and the internet.
eifl-plip project timeline
November 2011 - October 2012.
achievements and impact
The service led to a 20% increase in the number of farmers applying for agricultural production grants in 2012 in the municipalities of Stip and Karbinci. Farmers are now queuing up to use the Infobus when it comes to their villages.
More innovative public libraries serving farmers
Read about more innovative public library services for farmers. PLIP-AGRICULTURE