The Agricultural and Rural Development Agency (ARDA) keeps successfully supporting the agriculture and agro-processing enterprises across the country to expand and diversify their activity along the entire production chain. One of the businesses benefiting ARDA assistance is the Çobo winery in Berat. Thanks also to the assistance provided by ARDA Çobo winery continues to improve its wine quality through employment of state-of-the-art wine processing technology. Preserving the tradition is one of the winery’s main goals after having renovated the agricultural mechanics, totally transforming the way of doing farm work.
Prime Minister Edi Rama, accompanied by ARDA Director General Frida Krifca, visited the winery premises, where he was familiarized with the wine production line. Krifca underlined that ARDA assistance varies from the production to the provision and installation of new production technologies.
“This winery business has benefited assistance to purchase new agriculture machines, including the aggregates, helping it to transform the way of doing farm work so that varieties of quality grapes are grown and production increases, labour processes that were previously done with the use of primitive tools and mainly manually. A new bottle production line has been installed recently, as well as the barrels for ageing the wine in order to improve the wine quality. ARDA assistance includes a whole chain of processes, starting with expansion of the product through additional 36 hectares of vineyard and the abovementioned agricultural machines,” Krifca said, underlining that farmers are taking advantage of ARDA support to employ advanced production technologies.
Two Albanian emigrants, who returned back home five years ago, are making use of the experience they accumulated while living and working in Italy to apply it to their recently launched milk processing plant, where they get varieties of cheese and other dairy products, including mozzarella cheese.
After the visit to the Cobo winery, Prime Minister Edi Rama also stopped over at the dairy farm Agi 11 in the village of Poshnje, Dimal municipality, where milk from around 2000 local farmers is collected and processed. In addition to the assistance under the ARDA support schemes, in order to further develop their business, they have applied and gained support through the IPARD Programme funds to employ new technology in their dairy farm.
“Thanks support through IPARD Programme, this farm has benefited state-of-the-art technology, which takes milk processing to a whole new standard. They used to live and work in Italy until lately and they have imported what they have already learned and the experience they have amassed in Italy, and have adapted it to the Albanian conditions to produce mozzarella cheese,” ARDA Director Frida Krifca said.
Another innovation employed in this milk processing plant is the recycling of the water used in cheese production process.
“We have also invested in a plant treating the factory water to transform it into clean water and use it again during the processing process,” a company representative said.
The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Albania, Ambassador Soreca took part in this meeting.
A new vegetables and fruit collection and storage centre has been recently built in the municipality of Dimal, to serve not only the farm the owner runs, but also local farmers. “Natural“ has succeeded in building a vegetable and fruit collection and storage centre in line with the highest European standards through the assistance under the IPARD Programme. PM Rama visited the site to see the investment up close and familiarize with plans to build an agritourism business.
“It is a collection centre with considerable storage and refrigerating capacities for the fruits and vegetables processing. The company has more than 30 employees, while the business model is now being diversified with the plans to build an agritourism business,” ARDA Director Krifca said.
“Natural” is preparing plans to combine its natural products with the agribusiness’ bio recipes that is gradually taking shape adjacent to the greenhouses and its collection and storage warehouse.
“We are trying to prepare the product from a production phase to the end consumer, a standardized product in compliance with the market demands. The idea is to develop a closed-loop cycle. The new guesthouse will feature a total of 26 rooms,” the company representative said.
Mikel Hoxha, a 29-year old man, is one of those inspiration sources for young people, showing that everyone can embark and build a successful lucrative establishment through hard work, passion and strong will, to generate income for themselves, but also for other local families. Mikel’s nursery is a model of success in agriculture.
PM Rama, accompanied by the Head of the EU Delegation to Albania, Ambassador Luigi Soreca, visited the greenhouse nursery, where they were briefed on this investment, and availed themselves of this opportunity to encourage young Albanians to see agriculture as an opportunity to make a living and build their future. The young man, upon his return back home, has implemented contemporary technology for the plants growing in greenhouses after benefiting assistance under the European Union’s IPARD II Programme. “We grow over 3 million plants each season,” Mikel said.
“It is important that plans of young people to invest in agriculture gain support. If you are under 40, you benefit more in grants and this is for a good reason, as we are seeking to support young people to engage and invest in agriculture. It is precisely them who press this process forward and the model they have built is incredible,” ARDA Director said.
“IPARD is one of the most successful EU programmes in Albania,” Ambassador Soreca said, adding that “a total of 71 million euros has been allocated to support around 300 projects in Albania since 2018. Around 160 projects have already completed. But it is wonderful to see the enthusiasm and commitment of the Albanian farmers on the ground. Indeed, I have just completed a trip from north to south of Albania, where I met many beneficiaries from the IPARD Programme and it is really a great pleasure to see the progress they have made after benefiting assistance. An IPARD III support programme will be launched soon and it is important that the government keeps working with same commitment and readiness in the future to complete the farmers’ registration, as well as further improve food quality and safety, because it is important for the Albania grown products to be exported. The EU and IPARD Programme will continue to support you on this path,” Ambassador Soreca said.
“It was a day of visits to the territories where projects are being implemented here in Berat area and now at last here in Roskovec, where we were able to see the completed or the ongoing agriculture and rural development projects up close. It is really encouraging that on the one hand that the government direct assistance through ARDA and, on the other hand, the ARDA common work with the European Commission has led to the absorption of the majority of the EU funds for agriculture and rural development in Albania, while setting countless examples of a very simple truth that the love for the land, the readiness to work and the ambition for development, if they come together, allows residents in the countryside and rural areas to earn a lot more income than they would have been earning by leaving the country and work abroad. It is not a coincidence that we are concluding this tour with a visit to the examples set by two young men, who come from a difficult path as emigrants by working for others to make ends meet, while they are today self-sufficient and create jobs for around 500 households, thanks precisely to the love for the land, readiness to work and the ambition to develop,” the Premier said in his remarks.
PM Rama pledged continued government support so that the country’s agricultural exports reach a one-billion-euro target.
“We are here to continue supporting you. It is our ambition to increase the value of Albania’s agricultural exports to over one billion euros, a considerable ambition, yet a possible one within this decade we are in,” PM Rama added, voicing confidence this is the right path to make Albania a regional champion for agricultural exports by 2030.