In North Macedonia, ensuring the country’s economic vitality necessitated enhancing the complete chain of agriculture businesses—from farmers producing crops, to processors turning crops into food products, to traders marketing products to the world. Through the Agribusiness Activity (AgBiz) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Tetra Tech worked with stakeholders throughout the industry to help identify how each can best contribute to this value chain.

The project goals were to identify new export markets, find ways for producers and processors to meet those markets’ demands, enhance linkages along the chain from producers to processors to traders, and improve their business management and operations. The end results would be raised incomes for agricultural producers and processors and a sustainable improvement to the nation’s overall economy.

The AgBiz project focused on implementing policy and institutional reforms, ensuring access to finance, and building collaboration among all parties. Tetra Tech worked directly with all the links in the agribusiness chain to help them develop their businesses.

Through AgBiz, Tetra Tech quickly identified the sectors with the greatest potential to be competitive in export markets—fresh fruits and vegetables, processed fruits and vegetables, gathered wild food products, bottled wine, and table grapes. With those sectors identified, our team met with producers at lower levels of the value chain to identify ways to increase their production quality and quantity to satisfy current and anticipated demand. The project aimed to increase producers’ use of local agricultural development service providers. With input from these stakeholder meetings, our team assessed the current situation along with the agricultural market trends, and provided appropriate frameworks to educate the producers and farmers on improved, efficient agricultural production processes to increase production and profit.

AgBiz project funding served as seed money to stimulate growth throughout the North Macedonian agribusiness industry. Private sector participants were encourage to share in the cost by investing in equipment, technology research, product development, and food safety standards implementation. In the end, these investments increased the original investment eightfold.

Participating producers increased the value of raw materials sold by $9 million. The value of exports increased by $14.2 million. Total sales increased by nearly $19.2 million, including a $3 million increase in farm-level sales—a 14 percent increase in the total sales of targeted commodities.

AgBiz successfully implemented 20 business expansion projects to increase agribusinesses’ competitiveness and capacity to meet export market demand. The project introduced 35 new crop varieties and value chain products, supported 405 new value chain stakeholders and exporters, and brokered 807 formal delivery contracts. AgBiz interventions directly benefitted more than 42,000 rural households and created 637 new full-time-equivalent jobs, which was a 41 percent increase in labor for North Macedonia’s agricultural sector compared to the number of jobs that existed at the start of the AgBiz program. More than 1,900 private sector firms—including 300 women-owned firms—improved their management.