The success of each business is based on a special law. It is called the law of supply and demand. It can make you a billionaire or leave you empty handed. The whole business world goes around this axis. Sometimes, Albanian merchants face higher offer and low demand, or a surplus in production and a small market. Merchants are forced to lower prices and as such their margins move closer to zero.
If Albanian farmers sell their produce solely to domestic market, they would be able to meet the demand of merely 1.5 million consumers. That is all. If they were to export to Balkan countries, they would supply a market of 40-50 million consumers.
Imagine a market much bigger than Balkans that gathers nearly half a billion consumers. Imagine a bigger market, greater demand, higher production rate, guaranteed sales, job openings and huge profits. We are not talking about a distant future. The future has already started now.
Golden export opportunities to EU through European giants
These are the golden days for Albanian and Balkan farmers. The EU giants that supply large supermarkets in the union are here. Representatives of GreenYard based in Belgium are eyeing agricultural products from Albania, Macedonia, Serbia and the entire region to export to Europe and provide a direct supply to international famous supermarkets such as ALDI, BILLA, etc.
They have a strong condition: quality products! They have arranged meetings in Durres and Divjaka with representatives of Lea 2011, AgroDivjaka, ELKOS and AgroCon Albania. Those farms are certified in line with standards of quality through the regional USAID’s B-Redi regional project for Global GAP, HACCP and ISO 22000 certifications, project implemented from CBS organisation in Albania.
The project has marked significant progress in the certification of Albanian and regional products and as a result, USAID’s highest representatives for Europe and Eurasia will be part of these important meetings.
The first meeting was held at the village of Shën Vlash in the district of Durrës. Tim terStege and Mihai Rades Sales Managers of GreenYard, Stephen Little, Economic Growth Office, Europe and Eurasia, USAID and Dennis Wesner, USAID/Albania General Development Officer together with representatives of CBS organization visited the premises of ‘Lea 2011’ company headed by Ardian Çitozi.
He is a businessman with a clear vision. Çitozi exports chestnuts and watermelon, mostly to the Czech Republic and Italy. The HACCP certification awarded through the B-Redi project means that chestnuts exported by Lea 2011 have received the seal of quality.
The upcoming Global GAP certification for watermelons will boost export opportunities to other EU countries.
“You can not enter big markets without the Global GAP certification. Supermarkets in Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy demand such certified products,” GreenYard representatives told Ardian.
The chestnuts processing unit is the next stop. Ardian exports roughly 2,000 tons of chestnuts to Italy. The produce is collected mostly in Tropoja and Kukes. After they are delivered to Italy, the chestnuts are processed by steaming and packed.
Albania suffers from lack of processing structures, therefore Ardian sells his Albanian chestnuts to an Italian brand and has been able to sell them in the local market as well. Nevertheless, Ardian’s success does not rely merely on chestnuts.
Just few kilometers away, he takes pride on the watermelon farm, the biggest in Albania. Ardian Çitozi’s 25 hectares farm is the biggest one in Albania. He grows watermelons of Krispie variety (4-5 kg) which delivers 300-400 tons of produce, Bostana variety which delivers 150 tons of produce and Zucchero variety (4-7 kg) which generates 100 tons of produce.
The farm provides 50-80 tons of produce/hectares. This is a satisfactory output. May 20th will mark the beginning of harvesting the very first watermelon that has been planted mid-February. The crops that have been planted later on will be harvested until August. Ardian aims to boost his production but above all he is interested to diversify his produce. Growing chick peas is his next experiment.
“I have planted 3 hectares of chick peas. I plan to plant another 500 hectares due to high export demand,” Ardian told AgroWeb.org. “Albanian farmers do not know the European market,” he says.
“We should know more about what they are looking for, competitors and exact demands,” he adds. GreenYard representatives are experts when it comes to knowing what the market wants and needs.
Market Drive as a magic key
Do you have small watermelons weighting 2-3 kg? Do you have small cucumbers? What about broccoli and cauliflower? Do you grow avocados?
These are some of the questions asked by GreenYard representatives. Albanian farmers raise their shoulders and keep notes. These are the products that are mostly sought after in Europe. These markets demand quality products in line with standards that can be consumed by households.
This is the reason why USAID’s B-Redi project goes beyond certification. The objective is deliver market orientation, or a guideline on what to grow so that their offer meets the demand of EU countries.
The current interest is mostly about produce such as watermelon (small and seedless), cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, small cucumbers, seedless grapes, cherries, figs and melon.
The project helps farmers to understand the importance of selecting and packaging keeping in mind the preset weight of the product.
The latest freeze in Europe’s main suppliers, Italy and Spain caused shortcomings in the supply of agricultural produce. This is an extraordinary opportunity for Albanian and regional exports.
The Balkan great potential
Safety and Economy – these are the two most important matters involving the present and the future in Balkans.
The region seems free of conflicts of the past, but economy is still a challenge. Investors and exporters would rather prefer a big joint market, rather than addressing each market one by one.
This is a key mission for representatives of GreenYard. They plan to bi direct supplier of products from Albania, Macedonia and Serbia to large supermarkets, by guaranteeing a safe market that delivers competitive prices. Furthermore, GreenYard aims to provide a shortcut enabling the farmer and consumer to meet halfway.
The increase of quality is beneficial to Albanian consumers. They will reach the market that offers similar quality products such as Germany, Austria and Italy. This is the time for Albania and Balkans to no longer export conflict but original and quality products so they can march towards a solid economic growth./AgroWeb.org