FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO, Albania set for further collaboration

Rural tourism can offer better opportunities for rural populations, especially for women and youth.

With more than 40 percent of the workforce working in agriculture and almost half of the population living in rural areas, Albania’s agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economic development. The sector will play a key role in the integration of Albania into the European Union and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the country.

The new Country Programming Framework of FAO and Albania, signed today by Bledi Çuçi, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Raimund Jehle, FAO Representative in Albania, will be a key contribution to the development efforts of Albania, covering the period through 2021.

A strong focus of this new agreement is on supporting increases in rural income and improving the support provided to smallholders, particularly for rural women and youth. Support for Albania’s legal and institutional frameworks for agrifood production and climate change resilience is aimed at increasing competitiveness and sustainability in the country.

“There is an emphasis on gender equality, too, aligned with national, international and FAO standards,” Jehle said. “It is important to address this issue, as 50 percent of the agriculture workforce are women, but only 6.5 percent are heading the farm business.”

Many of the 350 000 small farms in Albania are not sufficiently competitive. Rural tourism and direct marketing can offer additional income and employment opportunities, specifically for women and young people, to bring about rural development and to increase the attractiveness of the sector as a future place of work. Supporting access to finance, land, advisory services and information and communication technologies is an important part of the new agreement. Particularly, promoting e-agriculture and the digitalization of agriculture offers new opportunities to develop the sector.

Agriculture will play a key role in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Small farms in particular are vulnerable to natural disasters.

“Making small farmers more resilient to recurrent floods in Albania will be key for their development,” Jehle said. “The Government and its partners will receive support for post-disaster needs assessments, early warning systems and climate financing measures in the agricultural sector as integrated responses for climate change adaption and disaster risk reduction.”

The agreement will also support the integration of Albania into the European Union, improving cooperation in the agrifood chains and upgrading the knowledge of value chain actors regarding food quality and safety standards. Moreover, FAO will facilitate regional cooperation, agrifood trade and market integration through support to public and private actors.

The FAO-Albania Country Programming Framework 2019–2021 resonates with the Organization’s regional targets on empowering smallholders and family farms, improving agrifood trade, and managing natural resources sustainably, under a changing climate. It backs the realization of Albania’s Inter-sectoral Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (2014–2020) and the 2017–2021 United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The implementation will be pursued in broad partnerships and in alignment with the joint efforts of the Government of Albania and development partners.

26 February 2019, Tirana, Albania