Topic: Threats and priorities of the Macedonian village
Key words: village threats, village priorities, emigration, unemployment, aging, economic status of households.
The paper presents a part of the results of the project entitled “Development of Rural Communities”, which aims to identify the threats and priorities of the Macedonian village. The survey mainly includes 64 village settlements, 640 households, that is 640 individuals. The survey was conducted from 10 December 2015 to 10 January 2016. The rural settlements were grouped according to their configuration into plain and hilly-mountainous settlements. A random selection of 10 households was made in the deliberately selected villages. The preferred interviewee was the holder of the household; however, if that person was not present, we spoke to the person who last celebrated his/her birthday (age +15).
The hypothesis that emigration (rural exodus), unemployment and aging are the greatest threats to the future of the Macedonian village was confirmed. The results show that two fifths of the respondents (40.50%) highlight emigration as the greatest threat. It is evident that just over a quarter (26.70%) of the respondents stress unemployment and 21.70% point to aging as a threat. Namely, the village is abandoned by a predominantly young and vital contingent of the population in active and fertile age which are of crucial importance for the development and population balance of the rural areas.
Agriculture still represents the only source of income that cannot maintain the microsystem and the developmental needs of the rural population. Only 18% of the respondents are satisfied (satisfied-15.3%, quite satisfied-2.80%) of the income they obtain from agriculture.
Small farmers (60.98% <1 ha used agricultural land, 2016) are technically and economically an obstacle to competitive agricultural production from which farmers can live modestly, but with dignity.
Accordingly, the research indicates that the basic life priorities of the rural households are: improvement of the economic situation of the rural households, competitive agricultural production and employment. According to the data, most of the responses point to the “improvement of the economic position of the household” (56.30%), 16.40% chose the modality “competitive agricultural production”, while 15.20% of the respondents consider “employment” as a priority in life.
The author concludes that according to the EU practices in the field of rural development, it is necessary to develop certain models for the Republic of Macedonia. This primarily means categorization of “less favourable areas” which must be specifically addressed in future rural policy.