Civil unrest threatens staple food supplies in Albania

Civil unrest threatens staple food supplies in Albania

Outbreaks of civil unrest in Albania since early March are threatening the continuity of wheat and other food supplies to the bulk of the population, according to a special alert released by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).

Albanian man transporting goods
Transportation of goods from rural to urban areas has been disrupted by civil unrest

As a result of poor wheat production in 1996, Albania continues to rely largely on imports to meet its needs for bread, the staple food, especially in urban areas. State warehouses have been pillaged, imports interrupted by border closures, and transportation within the country hampered by insecurity. Flows of other foodstuffs, such as vegetables, fruit and dairy and livestock products, from rural to urban areas have also been disrupted. As a result, food prices in urban centres are reported to have risen sharply.

Prospects for agricultural production in 1997 are very uncertain. A series of land reforms introduced in 1991, to transfer previously collectivized land to private ownership, resulted in a sharp fall in agricultural production. Some recovery has been seen since then. But production remains constrained by the still mostly fragmented landownership structure and small farmers' poor access to credit (despite internationally supported government schemes to provide credit for farmers). Wheat production in particular has been affected by the shift from large-scale collectivized farming to small-scale subsistence production of mainly cash crops and fodder.

Uncertainty over the outcome of the 1997 cereal crop has been heightened by the recent civil unrest, which could affect both yield prospects for growing winter crops and planting of spring cereals due to start soon. Shortages of essential seeds required for spring planting are also reported.

7 April 1997

GIEWS Special Alert

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