Support to agriculture and rural economic development in disadvantaged mountainous areas
Title: Joint German-Danish support to agriculture and rural economic development in disadvantaged mountainous areas
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration (MARDWA)
Overall term: 2014 to 2018
Among the problems that persist in the rural mountain areas of Albania are unemployment, low incomes and actual poverty. Farmers struggle to access markets while facing fierce competition and a constantly growing demand for quality. In response to these challenges, the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration (MARDWA) issued its Inter-sectoral Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (ISARD), which is intended to promote sustainable and inclusive growth. It will do so by establishing the conditions for an efficient, innovative and viable agro-food sector that meets the requirements of the EU market, uses resources sustainably and encourages livelihoods, employment and social inclusion in rural areas.
The objectives of ISARD 2014–2020 have been achieved. In particular, the viability of the rural economy has increased in disadvantaged mountainous areas.
The German and Danish Governments are jointly supporting the Albanian Government in implementing the ISARD. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore provides co-financing for this project through its Neighbourhood Programme.
The project involves the development of value chains in six rural mountain regions: Shkodër, Kukës, Dibër, Korçë, Berat and Elbasan. It addresses the four most important value chains in these regions, namely small livestock, fruit trees and nuts, medicinal and aromatic plants, and rural tourism. The value chain approach is combined with a territorial approach to promote local and regional economic development. Activities fall into four interrelated areas:
- Investment grant facility. The project will disburse grants up to a combined value of EUR 7 million. This is should strengthen the position of the actors in the value chains by helping them improve the efficiency and quality of their production and services. Special efforts are made to support the participation of female and younger farmers and entrepreneurs. The investments also help build links to the financial sector.
- Diversification of economic activities. The project supports both on-farm and off-farm diversification, in response to the needs of the market. In this respect, it runs quality-improvement schemes intended to raise the competitiveness and sustainability of the value chains, and it is introducing new and improved technologies to innovate the product range and enhance existing products.
- Relationships along the value chain. The project is encouraging closer ties between the different value chain actors, while empowering smaller-scale farmers and entrepreneurs and bolstering their negotiating power vis-à-vis the larger actors. It is also facilitating the creation of both informal business networks to formal associations.
- Public-private dialogue. By supporting dialogue, the project aims to improve the local business climate for the farmers and enterprises involved in the selected value chains. This includes efforts to enhance the branding of their products through EU labelling schemes (protected designation of origin – PDO; protected geographical indication – PGI; and traditional speciality guaranteed – TSG).