Regionalized agricultural production, standard compliance, food safety, irrigation, drainage and the development of a qualitative and attractive Albanian brand. These will be the agricultural priorities for the upcoming year, as presented by Minister of Agriculture Edmond Panariti, during a Parliamentary session.

“Direct support funds for farmers have increased from Euro 6.8 million in 2013, to Euro 12.8 million in 2014.”

For Minister Panariti, the increase of exports with 28 percent is a direct result of efficient strategies. “Let’s not forget that the situation in international markets has not been favourable, also because of the Russian embargo. Nevertheless, our products have found their space, even though we would like to further the possibility to export our goods, especially in the EU countries. Currently Albania exports to 18 countries. Our challenge is to fulfil the standards.

Funds for farmers, 8632 beneficiaries of EUR 12.8 million

Direct support funds for farmers have increased from Euro 6.8 million in 2013, to Euro 12.8 million in 2014. Minister Panariti revealed the data during his discourse on the allocation of national subvention funds and also European funds for agriculture. The total number of beneficiaries is 8632 subjects, divided in two groups; 94 percent are farmers and 6 percent are agroprocessors. Answering to Mr. Bitri, member of the parliament, for the Fier zone, about the funds that have been allocated to this zone, Mr. Panariti said that in this area have benefited 2300 farmers, approximately 1.6 billion Lek.

New agricultural approach? Regionalization

Some weeks ago the Albanian government presented the regional agricultural production map, which aims to use efficiently the governmental and donors funds. This map will serve as a guide for the crops which are priorities to specific areas. Minister Panariti gave two concrete examples; In Shkoder it will be given priority to medicinal herbs, viniculture, chestnuts while in Korce it will be given priority to apples, onions, lima beans and potatoes. Seems like everything will be focused on regionalization. Agricultural support services like labs or Agricultural Directories in different areas will specialize in the specific products that will be considered as priority in their areas. This, said Panariti, will increase standards.

Projects for 2015

Which will be the priorities of the Ministry of Agriculture for 2015? Which are the main projects? What provisions will be taken in order to increase exports of the Albanian products? How will standards be increased? Minister Panariti answered these questions starting from the one that he considered as the most important, investments in irrigation and drainage, through support and collaboration with the World Bank with a fund of USD 40 million.

Food safety, competences of private operators

During 2015 the labs which guarantee food safety will become more empowered, while the approach to increase the quality of the Albanian brand will continue, so that our products could be presented with dignity in European and global markets.

Minister Panariti said that important reforms will be taken in the fields which are required due to the EU candidate status. One of these is the reform in the field of veterinary food security. The Ministry has a strategy on this; to delegate to the private operators the competencies of food safety, in order to achieve the standardization levels, required from the EU.

In the last report of the European Union for Albania, it is suggested the drafting of law on organic agriculture, as well as the creation of a surveillance inspectorate. According to this report, the main issues in the field of food safety are the development of risk evaluation capacities, the creation of a systematic inspecting structure and the creation of a comprehensive strategy, which will clarify the legal, institutional and administrative framework.