Agriculture in Albania? One of the most profitable fields to invest. The land? Exceptionally fruitful. Climate? Very favorable. But what impedes Albania’s production to be the best of the best not just locally but in international terms? Would it be possible to consider all of Albanian products being totally safe for Albanian consumers, as well as penetrating global markets? Yes, there exist a holy grail: Certification according to European and international standards.
Obviously getting certified would be a challenge to some producers, but it would not be a challenge to all of them. Seventeen Albanian agribusinesses are the success story proving the skeptics wrong and penetrating the stands of the local supermarket chains in the country.
A new chapter started for them in September 2015 when they became part of USAID Regional Economic Growth Project, ‘Assistance in Compliance with Key Agricultural Standards and Certifications’, implemented in Albania by CBS, Creative Business Solutions.
One year later, after implementing all requirements, caring seed by seed, the 17 Albanian agribusinesses are proudly reaping the fruits of success, concluding the chapter of a successful certification.
Facilitating Trade Growth for Certified Agribusinesses
A B2B event was organized today by USAID Albanian and Creative Business Solutions, CBS, along with AgBiz Macedonia focussed on 'Facilitating Trade Growth for Certified Agribusinesses' and key participants were the 17 certified agribusinesses and large supermarket chains.
USAID Albania Representative, Dr. Catherine Johnson, and Minister of Agriculture, Edmond Panariti, delivered important remarks.
“I’m honored to be here to talk about something that is very near and dear to all of our hearts: safety quality and credibility in Albania and worldwide.” USAID Albania Mission Director, Ms Catherine Johnson stated.
While talking about some recent food safety issues in USA, Ms. Johnson stated that: ‘These are the kind of events that happen when our food safety is jeopardized. It happens everywhere. It happened with ground beef, strawberries, etc. but all of these fresh fruits and vegetables are at risk and that’s why is important to have particular certification, so the good work that is been done is not jeopardized.
I congratulate Albania for continuing to move forward in so many areas in the last years and this particular effort is another way to put Albania forward. The wonderful fruits and vegetables that you cultivate here and wonderful dairy products that you produce, make Albania a fantastic country for agriculture and I know you will be able to have this kind of efforts in the future even stronger because of proper certifications.”
“This B2B event, which brings together certified agribusiness companies and representatives of major networks of supermarkets in Albania is very important because these certifications allow penetration of Albanian standardized and branded products not only to Albanian supermarket chains, but also to new markets. Our aim consists at reducing the agricultural imported products as well as promoting domestic production', - Minister of Agriculture Edmond Panariti outlined.
‘Certifications are essential for Albanian agribusinesses to meet the requirements of the European supermarket chains whose prime condition is the necessary certification.
Enio Jaço, Executive Director of CBS, mentioned the importance of standard compliance and certification award as the solution to narrow the gap between the agribusiness community, domestic and foreign markets.
Goran Damovski of AgroBiz Macedonia also highlighted the potential of Albanian agribusinesses growth through adopting the necessary steps for a successful standard certificate award. "These seventeen companies should be seen only as the first batch of Albanian certified agribusinesses. Other Albanian companies are in the process of certificate award, opening the doors to the Albanian producers to grow their export volumes’, Mr Damovski stated.
Seventeen Albanian food producers as well as a number of Macedonian firms met directly with the purchasing managers of some of the leading supermarket chains in Albania to develop supplying contracts for future periods.
Certification - The international passport for the Albanian agriculture products
Many products from Albania cannot currently penetrate this huge potential market EU has to offer because of environmental, health and safety risks associated with current production systems.
Food security is the crucial objective of all certifications awarded by 17 Albanian agribusinesses, from Global Gap, HACCP to ISO 22000.
And certifications basically all mean one thing: food security. Adhering to EU standards is pivotal for the agriculture and an extremely important source of income for Albania.
Larger apple producers, vegetables greenhouses, and olive producers have been assisted in implementing and getting Global G.A.P certification. HACCP is another certification that Albanian farmers benefited to comply with key national quality food standards, but even more to expand into regional markets. While ISO 22000 is another certification, part of this program, which is also a key requirement by the major groceries and international supermarket chain present in Albania such as Conad and SPAR as well as domestic national retailers such as Big Market with many branches throughout the country.
This certification meets international minimum required standards including food safety and management standards but also integrates basic aspects of traceability so in many cases it is accepted even by larger supermarket chains in the region.
Global GAP for farmers is like the ID card we present to the border. GlobalG.A.P is the international passport of the agriculture products and is extremely important in order to export in the EU.
Growing demand for food safety certification
European supermarket chains are increasingly demanding that their suppliers to be certified against food safety standard.
In the international market, Albanian farmers and food producers will be increasingly required to be certified against a food safety standard. Not only because we are projected towards are the membership and the integration into the EU Market part of the overall policy of integration of Albania into the European Union. But also because the EU market pays much better than regional markets for the production unit.
And that is enough reason for Albanian farmers to get certified and compete in the large EU market. Albania has great products and it is time to put a stamp on it proudly branded 'Made in Albania'./AgroWeb.org