Kosovo’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development has devised an ambitious development strategy for the period 2007 to 2013 that is in line with EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) standards. The prime focus of this strategy is on boosting the revenues of Kosovo’s farmers, creating jobs in rural areas and developing these areas, and substituting food imports with locally produced food products. The plan covers agriculture, rural development, forestry and horticulture. Other recent initiatives launched by the Ministry focus on food processing, food marketing, and developing unused land for agricultural purposes.
Blerand Stavileci, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, points out that much progress has already been made since the new strategic plan was launched in 2007. He says, “This year we increased our milk and cereals budget by 50% and we also doubled our horticulture budget; we have also created a special strategy for horticulture for 2009 to 2013, and we have devised a new strategy for the forestry sector for the period 2010 to 2020. We have also begun a project with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) concerning strategic crops and livestock projects. We are committed to making all these projects meet CAP criteria.”
International community lends a hand
The ministry provides direct funding to farmers through grants and subsidies and also provides capital investments for irrigation projects, including micro irrigation. Kosovo’s agriculture sector is receiving funding from the government and from a number of international organisations, including the EU Commission, the World Bank, and the USAID. Financial support has also been provided by individual countries, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Germany and Italy. “Thanks to this international support, our ministry’s budget has tripled, allowing us to fund more projects and invest in our farmers,” Blerand Stavileci says.
As this international interest shows, Kosovo’s agriculture sector offers exceptional future investment potential. The minister points out, “Kosovo has a strategic location and significant natural resources for agriculture as well as a temperate climate, fertile and diverse agricultural land, and a young population. In addition, around 60% of the people of Kosovo live in rural areas.”
To capitalise on these advantages, the ministry has created a world class institutional, administrative and legal framework for the agriculture sector through the Institutional Support to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development (ISMAFRD) project (2007 to 2009) in partnership with the European Commission; it was implemented by a consortium including AGRIFOR Consult (Belgium) and GOPA (Germany). Kosovo welcomes more international partnerships, particularly with EU countries and investors.