(from “Report on existing GAPs and Best Practices”)
Albania is in the South-eastern part of Europe. The country has a total territory of 28,748 km2, of which 24% is agricultural land, 36% forest and 16% pastures and meadows. The remaining 24% is classified as other, which includes urban areas, lakes and waterways and mountainous areas. Albania is part of the Mediterranean Alps and is characterized by a diversity of rock formations. The country is mainly mountainous and hilly, with river valleys and small coastal plains. The climate is mild temperate (Mediterranean-type) with cool, cloudy wet winters and hot, clear, dry summers. Crop yields are affected by the variable weather, but mostly by rainfall, which averages 1 430 mm annually, but concentrated in autumn-winter and almost completely lacking in spring-summer. The average altitude of the country is 708 m above the sea level and only 16,2 percent are below 100 m above sea level. The altitude declines moving from the east to the west of the country, and this determines the conditions of the climate, land, and vegetation.
Albania’s rural population increased during the entire Communist period, rising from less than 1 million in 1950 to a peak of 2,1 million in 1990. The change of economic and political regime in 1990 led to persistent out migration from rural areas, with the rural population dropping to 1,2 million by 2016. The decrease of the rural population between 1990 and 2016 (-900,000 people) greatly exceeded the long-term increase in the urban population (+500,000 people) and as a result Albania’s total population decreased by as much as 12% during this period. Strong rural-to-urban migration has been reinforced by overall emigration, which affected the rural sector to a much greater extent than the urban.
Rural population (% of total population) in Albania was reported at 38,77 % in 2019, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators.
The main driving force behind agri-food production growth is increased demand in the domestic market. The Albanian agri-food sector is characterized by a short chain, which represents an advantage for domestic producers. On the other hand, in some sectors, spot markets are prevalent, while contracts are scarcely used, resulting in limited traceability.
In the domestic market, it is an important behaviour of consumers which prefer local products rather than imported ones. While the production chain intends to produce and orient the production to exports.
Exports in various agri-food sectors, especially fruit and vegetable and fishery products have been. These increases have been enabled by increased investments, governmental and EU funds. Exports target largely neighbouring non-EU countries while exports to EU countries are non-eligible for some product categories due to constraints in standards and quantities supplied.