FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

UN initiative helps farmers in Albania invest in local agricultural production

FAO provides assistance to Albanian farmers through agricultural grants that aim to add value to local agricultural production. The project, financed by the United Nations Joint Fund and the Albanian government, supports smallholders through facilitating good practices on rural income diversification, innovative short food value chains, and farmers' cooperation, as well as promoting authentic products and a "from farm to tourist" approach.

Today, in order to provide further information to farmers, FAO experts visited Korca, in addition to two other eligible communities in Malësi e Madhe and Belsh, which were selected based on the results of a feasibility study on smallholders and rural development conducted earlier by FAO.

“Farmers in Albania have been hit hard in past decades by natural disasters and economic stresses; now this possibility gives them a chance to invest in new equipment, modernize agricultural production and processing, upgrade the technological level of plant production and protection, and improve animal husbandry,” said Katalin Ludvig, FAO rural development specialist.

The new equipment and machinery adds value to local agricultural products by promoting the processing of agricultural produce, reducing post-harvest loss, and, in general, improving the quality.

Specifically, the initiative could support collective actions related to the drying of apples, plums, and cherries in Korca, processing fruits and vegetables, and eventually expanding into olive, tobacco, pottery, and soap production in Belsh, as well as enhancing the milk value chain with good quality local added-value products and applying food quality and safety criteria in Malësi e Madhe.

“This call for applications has been designed to facilitate cooperation among farmers, small processors, and agritourism actors, since not ­individuals, but groups of at least three can apply. Rural women and youth are specifically encouraged to participate,” added Ludvig.

Albania’s agriculture is dominated by smallholders and family farms. Farmers in the three focus municipalities are facing several different constraints, including a fragmented land structure, lack of access to financing, inadequate advisory services, and outdated technical skills and knowledge.

In the long run, FAO aims to provide technical advice to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on future policies to support the development of small farms into commercial family farms. The experience with the FAO grant application will simulate rural development implementation and test how local communities absorb potential funding. This process will also improve the quality of local community level administration, including extension services, in applying for future rural development funding to improve the quality of life in rural Albania.

This activity contributes to FAO’s wider vision to empower smallholders, family farms, and youth, facilitating rural livelihoods and poverty reduction in Europe and Central Asia.

25 March 2021, Korca, Albania