‘Made in Albania’ products making it to the stands of U.S. supermarkets! This is the ultimate American Dream to Albanians, but is also the Albanian Reality to the Americans. While visiting Albania, David Reside, Division Chief, Office of Europe and Eurasia Country Affairs is optimistic and encouraging to Albanian agribusinesses. He describes them as impressive and amazing.
“I am convinced that I will soon find your quality products in United States. I can’t actually wait to see them,” Reside declared, following his visits to some of the most successful Albanian agribusinesses in Goriçan in Berat and Krutje of Lushnja.
His journey began with several meetings of greenhouse producers in the villages of Berat, supported by USAID and AAC Lushnja projects. His next stop was in Krutje to visit the biggest greenhouse in the country that belongs to Agrocon Albania.
The road that leads to Pirre village seems to take you nowhere, until you see a giant and impressive greenhouse. It almost seems as if you have moved to another state. The 5 million euro project extends in 30 hectares of land, in one of the most fertile areas in the country. The modern technology greenhouse covers 10 hectare of land and the remaining 20 hectares flourish in an open field. .
Since day one with USAID and CBS- An ongoing success
It wasn’t easy and yet it wasn’t impossible. As a result of the support delivered by USAID and AgroCapital project implemented by CBS, this new enterprise has received a lot of assistance in financing through a commercial loan, but also in drafting a business plan, certifying its produce and boosting productive technologies. A clear success is a solid base to further collaboration through USAID and CBS’s newest project,
Smart Capital. Through SmartCapital, Agrocon will continue to expand his business with new cooling systems and receive new financing by the Agency for Agricultural and Rural Development and IPA grants.
‘When we launched this business, we knocked on many doors. The only one to open, and we are grateful for it, was the CBS and USAID’s door. Since the first day until today we have implemented every single move that was suggested to us. This has been the guarantee of today’s success,” Adrian Doko, at Agrocon. He has extensive experience and as such knows every detail of this subject.
The company employs over 90 people. According to Mr.Doko, the company supplies super quality products such as cucumbers, pepper, melon, tomatoes and watermelon. “We have also tried to grow spring cabbage but there was no demand so we decided to withdraw from the task,” he says underlining that peppers and cucumbers are the most prized products.
Agrocon supplies the local market but also exports to Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia. It also eyes Western Europe countries. Agrcon is among the first companies to receive Global Gap certification through USAID’s B-REDI project for international certification. Global Gap is mandatory for every producer who wants to enter EU markets.
As he strolls through the green plants of his greenhouse, Ardian passionately talks about the quality of his products. As he shares his produce with his new American guests, he receives a great surprise: a hand delivery of his Global Gap certificate. He interrupts his speech on his farm and enjoys the fruits of his success. Ardian is grateful for the support.
The weak chains of agriculture
David Reside is generously supportive. He wonders about the problems and challenges of companies in the agriculture sector. Ardian mentions the lack of support through grants and funds and lack of market to sell his produce. He seeks more support from the government in his quest to find new opportunities for commerce and exports. The production to sale chain has some weaknesses and finding a safe market is one of them.
Secondly, the weeds market is still new, it lacks standards and oversight. As a result, farmers try and fail as a result of bad seeds that enter Albania.
‘It would be better for Albania to introduce preliminary contracts before the planting season, so we that we can direct our production and have a secured market,” Mr.Doko stated.
Property issues and lack of certificates is another sensitive matter. There are many state-owned lands that are unexploited and not allocated that might be of interest for many investors.
Agrocon Albania is one of the most successful businesses, in Albania and beyond. Mr Reside has some great impressions and higher expectations. He told AgroWeb.org that businesses that provide employment, higher quality products, contribute to the country’s economy are great, because they foster the positive perception on Albania, hence correcting wrong beliefs.
“You have unique and quality products here. They will give Albania a great name building a great reputation,” he says. He recalls on the famous Field of Dreams and says “If you build it, they will come.”/AgroWeb.org