Many people in rural Macedonia are leaving their villages to seek a better life elsewhere. With little prospects of employment and bitter winters preventing the growth of crops, villages are quickly becoming ghost towns. Carving an income from self employment is the only option for those that remain.
There has been a sharp move away from growing fruit and vegetables for self consumption to harvesting tobacco. Families, such as Vlatko and Ana’s including their young children Martea (4) and David (8) work seven days a week from 3am averaging 100 hours work a week.
Like many families Vlatko and Ana have opted to grow and harvest tobacco in the small village of Sopotnica. The average yearly crop will yield 4000 Euro and after expenses this family will net 2500 Euro - about $AU0.20 an hour each. This is a better option for many rural dwellers than following traditional farm practices.