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Minister Genc Ruli
Ministry Ensuring International Competitiveness of Albanian Agriculture
Agriculture is one of Albania’s key growth sectors. Genc Ruli, Minister of Agriculture, explains, “In 2008, the agriculture sector generated around 18.5% of Albania’s GDP and provided employment for around 48% of the population. Agricultural production in 2010 rose by 8% compared to 2009, marking the largest increase in 20 years.” This growth is particularly impressive since the Albanian agriculture sector is dominated by small farms with an average size of only 1.2 hectares.
To support the agriculture sector, Albania has launched an ambitious rural development programme that includes the digitalisation of key information related to agricultural activities. “Without this, Albania’s agriculture sector would not be able to achieve EU integration,” Genc Ruli explains. The programme also covers technical assistance for the establishment of the Agency of the Rural Development Programme and Managing Authority, whose task is to ensure that Albania’s agriculture sector meets the criteria set by the EU acquis communautaire.
In its previous rural development programme (2005 to 2010), the Ministry of Agriculture focused on publicly financed rural infrastructure projects (including schools, healthcare facilities, water systems and transport infrastructure) as well as agricultural subsidies. “In the future, we will gradually increase direct support to farmers,” Genc Ruli says. Agricultural subsidies for olive and fruit production, irrigation systems, milk and cheese production, beekeeping, organic farming, the production of vegetables and meats for export, and other agricultural activities will be continued until set goals are reached, Minister Ruli adds.
Organic farming and olive production
Albania’s agricultural sector offers competitive advantages for the production of a wide range of products. Minister Ruli highlights organic farming; he says, “Organic farming has enormous potential for investors in Albania and will bring about more added value in the agriculture sector.” Olive oil production also has strong prospects and the Ministry of Agriculture is promoting investment in olive oil technology, manufacturing and marketing as well as in planting large groves of olive trees. Albania has also begun a major project to plant more nut trees with the aim of producing nuts for export.
Albania’s Ministry of Agriculture is committed to ensuring that Albania’s agriculture sector meets international standards. Genc Ruli says, “Our primary goal is to enable Albanian agricultural products to fully supply domestic market needs and then, through the consistent application of CAP criteria, to export products to international markets. Both producers and consumers of Albanian agricultural products will benefit.”