"The Cooperative Law of 2002 does not differentiate between the cooperative and the joint stock company. Another law that hinders us is the Personal Income Tax Act, according to which individual farmers pay only 2 percent tax, while cooperatives pay 10 percent of the realized turnover. There is also a problem with the Law on Labor Relations, because everyone who is a member of the cooperative does not mean that they are employed, and that they are deleted from the Employment Agency," says Mende Ivanovski, president of the Association of Agricultural Cooperatives.
The revision of the regulation is one segment of the Project for Support of the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives, which is funded by the European Union with 1.98 million euros, will last for 38 months and will be implemented by the Agency KER Germany-Luxembourg and the Macedonian Enterprise Development Foundation (MEDF).
The goal of the project for development of the existing and for the formation of new cooperatives, as announced by the Minister of Agriculture Ljupco Nikolovski, is to increase the market competitiveness and the cooperation among the farmers. According to the register, there are 39 agricultural cooperatives in Macedonia, of which 7 are large with 20 or more members, and the other have from 10 to 19 members. Grants have been provided for the development of 8 existing and 12 new agricultural cooperatives.
"The food market is modernizing and the Balkan is constantly decreasing, so the question is with which agricultural products will we be competitive?" Asked Tatjana Lazarevska from MEDF, adding that 99% of Macedonian farmers have only two hectares of land and no more than 2 livestock units, and if they are not horizontally connected, their products go to retailers, sellers, buyers.
Apart from the consolidation of the plots, the project will encourage the participation of female farmers in cooperatives.