Background: During February 2015, Albania was hit by a severe and intense flood that caused significant damage to agriculture production areas. Over the past year, USAID has introduced $750,000 worth of new technologies and inputs that will have a positive and long term impact on the quantity and quality of production, adding value and increasing competitiveness of Albanian products, and offering better resilience to climatic events. USAID has worked with farmers and local authorities to create models of excellence for production and provision of training and inputs to support recovery.
1) Greenhouse Tunnels: Strawberry cultivation is a new business in Albania, developed only in the last 3-4 years in the Frakull (Fier), as a result of the experience gained by Albanian immigrants in Greece. Due to their light construction, most of the tunnels were either partially or totally destroyed in last year’s floods. Further, strawberry growers were not using good fertilizing schemes and were purchasing products that Greece had already imported from Spain. Local and regional market demand for this crop is high.
Expected Results of Greenhouse Assistance:
- Construction of 3 new models of tunnels with improved parameters and sustainable construction which secures better microclimate inside and higher resistance against atmospheric agents (wind, heavy rains, flooding).
- Establish direct market linkages for the purchase of agricultural inputs between Albanian input suppliers and input suppliers in EU markets to reduce the cost of inputs and cost of production.
- Establish one collection point equipped with grading, sizing, and packaging machinery, in order to meet quality and safety standards required from export markets.
- Establish a demonstration plot to demonstrate to strawberry growers the implementation of good agricultural practices and agronomic measures. 3-4 strawberry varieties are being tested to select the best and most marketable variety for the market.
- Two new models of greenhouses for vegetable production of 0.1 hectares each will be constructed in the Kutalli commune (Berat district) and the Strume commune (Fier district).
2) Livestock Breeding and Milk Production: Livestock and dairy production in Albania have long been viewed as the backbone of Albania’s agriculture, dominated by the main categories of cattle and small ruminants. Over the course of almost 25 years farmers have enlarged their flock (est. 498,000 cattle where 350,000 are cows), yet milk and meat production is very low and farm efficiency in many cases still a critical matter of survival. Flooding causes critical problems with land and soil, with negative impact on forage crops, destruction of shelters, and loss of animals. Interventions will help to address the lack of education among Albanian dairy producers and their technical advisors, and will help promote the use of high genetics and other agricultural products and supplies.
Expected Results of Breeding Program:
- Increase milk production by at least 10% within three years due to the introduction of high genetics.
- At least 3,500 high genetic offspring will be delivered, of which theoretically 50% female calves will become heifers/cows of high genetic value enriching the Holstein population in the country.
- Better animal health due to improvements in feeding and the introduction of practical measures for disease prevention by farmers.
- At least a 50% decrease in mastitis problems and somatic cell count as a result of preventive measures and control at the demonstration farms.
- Farmers implementing the integrated measures mentioned above will have better economics. Results of cost production calculations pre- and post-project support are being conducted
- Young veterinarians will upgrade their knowledge and will be ready to use new and effective technologies such as ultrasound that will make a paradigm shift in farmers’ concepts on reproduction issues, service period, and pregnancy efficiency.
Expected Results for Milk Processing:
- One small cheese processing unit will be established with the capacity of 500 – 1,000 liters/day
- Better quality of raw milk will be supplied to the processing unit due to use of laboratory and improvement of raw milk transportation
- New updated technologies will be implemented
- Standardized dairy products will be developed
- At least two new dairy products required in the market will be produced
- Quality and Safety programs such as GMP and HACCP will be implemented
- Opportunities for employment will be created