Albanian potential on quality schemes and consumer health

(from “Report on existing GAPs and Best Practices”) The main regions of Albania where are identified traditional products which can be registered under quality schemes are (reference GIZ – SRD project):

Korca – The farm size in Korca region is small 1.27 ha (ANNUAL STATISTICS, 2012). Even though farm size consolidation represents a positive trend, it is slow and negatively effects efficiency that brings to the necessity to look for other alternatives such as quality production systems, PDO, PGI, TSGs (local typical products). The increase of farm income is related with the increase of value-added of agricultural products and agro-food by linking them with a certain territory. Typical products are small in quantities and the cost of production is relatively high. In all cases, even when they are produced as organic, they are sold as conventional products, so with a huge loss of added value. The market for typical product in Albania is still small, but the consumers’ willingness to pay supports the potential for market development. Korca, as one of Albania’s most important centres of culture and tradition, is also well-known for its delicious authentic cuisine. The locals fanatically preserve the original recipes like; lakror (pie), baked in sap (copper pan), pie with white beans, oven- baked beans (pllaqi), Korani casserole dish, and many others.

Dibra – The county is dominated by mountainous and high terrain, with a great variety of natural features and significant biological diversity. Dibra is a predominantly agricultural region with a strong tradition particularly in orchards and livestock. Also this territory has diversified natural resources and promoting a good quality of the multi-potential activity, with a strong importance of pastoral resources.
Most common products are potatoes, beans, plums, apples, cherries, and nuts, etc., which constitute an important economic resource for the livelihood of the residents. In Dibra, as in most Albanian territory, the link between people and origin-linked products is very strong. Consumers generally prefer domestic products that, according to them, are free of pesticides and other chemicals and also tastier. They do give strong importance to the origin of specific products such as apples, honey, raki, cheese, meat, onions, potatoes and beans.

Shkodra – In Shkodra Region, many productions can also be identified, related to soft fruits, mushrooms and chestnuts. In particular, soft fruits are very valuable rural products, and are both gathered and cultivated, especially in Puka district. Soft fruits are also processed in a traditional artisanal way, to produce jams, compotes, preserves in syrup, and alcohol, juices and distillates and alcoholic infusions. The Mushrooms value chain (including gathering and processing activities) was identified mostly in Puka district. Despite good environmental possibilities of cultivating
mushrooms, this practice seems to be not in use in the Region. The milk value chain – The fresh row milk is produced from cows, sheep and goats. Endogenous cheeses like Albanian feta and Vermosh cheese, produced according to traditional recipes and from good ingredients, are very valuable and appreciated by consumers. Herbs (dover, lavender, mint, mountain savory, “mountain tea”, oregano, sage, thyme) are collected mainly in wild mountain areas, but also cultivated.

Vlora – Several agricultural and agri-food value chains that represent endogenous competitive resources can be considered rare, unique or owning primary qualities, such as: products of the bee value chain, (mono-flowers honeys, royal jelly, propolis) many species of fish, all kind of herbs, citrus, Kalinjot olive variety and extra virgin oil, Native goat and sheep farming, meat and other dairy products like feta cheese or “hard white cheese”, Vlosh grape and wine, etc. The competitive advantage of bee value chain is high for the multi-flower honey, characterised by good organoleptic characteristics and good levels of territorial representativeness and recognisability, being typically representative of Mediterranean region because of its provenience from pollen of oregano, thyme and sage.
Production of fruit trees, olive trees, and citrus has been and continues to be a characteristic feature for Vlora region in comparison with other regions. The olive and olive oil sector are an important segment of Albanian primary production and agro industry. Table olives are also homemade by processing and preserving fresh olives in brine. Kalinjot olives can be considered a very valuable autochthon variety: extra virgin oil extracted from them, is intrinsically excellent.

Gjirokastra – The high-quality agricultural products typical for the area are grapes (many varieties, including the native Debinè White, Merlot etc.), cherries, herbs and medicines, and fine quality cattle, goats, and eggs. Wine and raki of Pèrmet have always been among the best in Albania; also, cheeses, meats, oregano, honey and gliko (typical fruit sweet) of the region enjoy a national reputation. Climatic conditions of the district and the territorial promote not only livestock sector development but also the wine sector. The ancient traditions that characterize Pèrmet District in processing grapes, milk, fruit processing to prepare glikò (typical fruit-based sweet) and collection of herbal plants, make these agro-industries numerous and very widespread.

Tirana – Fruit-growing has traditionally been thriving, which is multifarious and features all kinds of fruits (figs, plums, native pomegranates, persimmons), olives and grapes, and as far as livestock is concerns, it is mainly cattle, i. e. dairy cows, that prevali, but across villages farmers also breed small ruminants – mostly sheep. It is evident that greenhouse vegetables constitute a very important product for the economy of the Region of Tirana as its early yield is much profitable and the consumer and industrial market has much demand for it. But also, field vegetables make up a long- established feature for the small farming economies of Tirana and they go along with the tradition and experience the farmers have inherited. Among them, the highland tornato is a characteristic one, a competitive and very special item for its fast and strong flavour. The mild Mediterranean climate and the several hundred years of old tradition of cultivation and use of olives, favours the interest in this crop that has a guaranteed consumer and industrial market. In the hilly areas of the districts of Tirana vineyards have been grown since several centuries because of their mild climate and the many sunny days. The cultivation of autochthons grape varieties like “Shesh i Bardhe” and “Shesh i Zi” has increased the interest of several wine producers and agro tourism units that are emerging significantly around Tirana.

Some issues that can be realised for the further development of the registration of the products under quality schemes are:

  • overcoming difficulties for cooperation in the form of agricultural associations. The farmers in Albania are not willing to cooperate and formalize groups which would ease the working conditions and increase the profits. The fragmentation of the agriculture land is not in their favour and for that the creation of SHBB would be a sustainable solution to ensure farm viability.
  • The registration of the products and production cannot be fully implemented if the quality and food safety standards are not ensured. As many of products are traditional and handmade, the consumers are concerned on the safety of products. Marketing criteria for this product should be improved including the labelling and control form the relevant institution.
  • There is no information on the characteristics of the traditional products that are consumed. Even though the consumers are willing to pay more for this product and organic one, the food that will be consumed has to be analysed by national authorized laboratories.
  • National capacities to promote and provide capacity building related to Gl TSD and PDO products are missing.
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