During my week in (F.Y.R) Macedonia, the most interesting event was probably a meeting with a group of farmers, which we arranged to get a better understanding of the main obstacles for small scale commercial farmers in one of the regions. These farmers were very small in terms of the size of their farms. This means that they cultivated less than one to a few hectares of land, even for cereal production, and that they most of them owned no more than 10 cattle or 20 pigs. A few of them even rented their land. The majority of the farmers that attended the meeting were older men but there were a couple of women and a few younger farmers there. As for most small-scale farmers that I have worked with, what it all boiled down to was the difficulty in accessing higher-value markets and getting paid enough for their produce to have an incentive to invest more and to move out of poverty. When discussing the problems with markets and prices, one farmer suggested that the international organizations could buy food products from them for humanitarian aid for people in need around the world. A chorus of voices agreed with him and told us that if it was for aid for places like Africa (i.e. the Horn of Africa), they would give the aid organizations a good price. What really moved me though was one farmer who said that that if it was for Africa, he would give his produce for free. I hope to always remember that farmer and that some people are generous regardless of how little they have.

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