Remarks by German Ambassador Susanne Schütz At the Closing event of the EU financed component to the GIZ project „Support to Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD)“Zmadho fotografinë
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for the invitation and for giving me the opportunity to say a few words. Last week the German Minister for Agriculture, Christian Schmidt was in Albania. He had meetings with Prime Minister Rama and Minister Panariti to discuss Albanias EU integration and support to Albania’s agriculture on its way towards the EU. It became clear that the agricultural sector in Albania is still playing a key role in the economic and social development of the country. 40% of the labour force is contributing to about 20% of the gross national product. These figures show how important it is to develop this sector quantitatively and qualitatively. Particularly, in view of Albania´s accession to the European Union.
This is exactly where our project “Support to Agriculture and Rural Development” (SARD) starts.
Through SARD the Albanian agriculture got more competitive and has gradually aligned with EU standards. Thanks to joint EU and German funding as well as German expertise SARD was able to make a difference:
- The recent EU Report on Albania confirmed the good progress made in the field of over the last 12 months.
- Albania will be eligible to receive EU IPARD II assistance of about 70 Million EUR.
- Moreover, under SARD, the Albanian authorities have been provided with a software to ensure that the grants are managed and controlled and in a transparent manner.
- Additionally, farmers and agro-processors have been made aware how important formal business standards are. And they got better in efficiently using financial support.
- Last but not least, living conditions in rural areas have improved, as beneficiaries of the program enhanced their competitiveness and, thus, raised their revenues and job opportunities .
Let me give you two concrete examples:
- A dairy cow farmer in Lezhe used the grant for constructing a new and bigger stable. He now produces 600 additional tons of milk per year, and has 6 new full time employees.
- Apple farmers in the Korca region increased the quality and quantity of apple yields due to the facilitation of orchard services, such as secondary tillage and improved application of pesticides.
Of course, more challenges lie ahead:
- So, it is important that also sufficient national resources are allocated to the agricultural sector and the high turnover of trained staffed was stopped
- That the beneficiaries of the grants will receive reliable market information,
- And, very important, that more farmers will be in possession of undisputed land titles.
Albania and Germany have successfully worked together to improve agricultural competitiveness and rural development for almost 20 years now. Let me assure you that Germany will stay engaged also in the future to help Albania get fit to join the European Union.
Thank you for your attention!