Promotion of the rural areas in Albania as regions to live and do business
Title: Sustainable Rural Development / SRD
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministerium für Landwirtschaft und ländliche Entwicklung / Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
Overall term: 2019 to 2022
Agriculture is the most important economic sector in Albania's rural regions and accounts for 43 per cent of jobs. The majority of the approximately 350,000 agricultural enterprises produce to serve their own needs. Only seven per cent of these farms are run by women.
Only a few of the small family farms are integrated into the supply chain from production to the consumer. Many farms produce quantities that are too small and of insufficient quality to compete on the market. There are virtually no formal alliances in the form of producer groups or cooperatives. Agricultural diversity, including agrobiodiversity, environmental services, landscape protection and direct marketing, are neither sufficiently promoted nor used to generate income. As business consolidations can be expected in the context of European Union (EU) accession preparations, there is a growing need for small family businesses to capitalise on alternative income opportunities.
Albania's rural regions, which are characterised by underemployment and hidden unemployment, are particularly hard hit by migration to the cities and abroad. In addition, during the migration wave of 2015/2016, Albanians, especially from rural areas, migrated to the EU to seek asylum. However, less than one per cent of these migrants are granted asylum, meaning that most of them will return, if they have not already. After returning to rural areas, only limited opportunities for economic and social reintegration are available.
Tourism is becoming an increasing economic factor in rural areas. As in agriculture, rural tourism is dominated by smaller, largely informal family businesses (for example, offering accommodation). The lack of institutional tourism structures in regions and communities makes it more difficult to develop differentiated, quality-oriented tourism services. Regional tourism and agricultural partnerships have not been used effectively enough to deliver a diverse income strategy. However, Albania, with its diverse natural and cultural landscapes, its particular (agro-)biodiversity and historical traditions, as well as its direct links to Europe, has enormous potential for developing an environmentally friendly rural tourism industry.
The conditions for sustainable income opportunities in rural areas of Albania have improved.
The programme aims to improve the performance of the relevant rural development stakeholders. To achieve this, it develops needs-based strategies and policies for EU-compliant, environmentally sound rural development. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Tourism and Environment receive assistance in setting up efficient working mechanisms, improving cross-sectoral and interdepartmental planning, and implementing strategies and support programmes.
The project also improves the performance of selected value chains (fruit and nuts, vegetables, medicinal and aromatic herbs and small ruminants). Based on successful examples from previous projects, the project supports small farmers and small and micro enterprises in the pilot regions in modernising agriculture, expanding rural tourism and using Albania's great (agro-)biodiversity in order to secure income.
The project also uses ongoing measures to help improve the quality of initial, further and continuing vocational training in the selected value chains. These take place in the areas of traditional and market-oriented agricultural products and rural tourism.
Last but not least, improving knowledge regarding long-term rural development among representatives from all the relevant interest groups is an additional field of action. The project focuses on enhancing the technical and methodological capacities of public and private extension services, non-governmental organisations, transfer points for agricultural technology, universities and professional networks. This is to take place using a future national knowledge and innovation system as envisaged by the EU to facilitate knowledge transfer and innovation regarding agricultural issues.