Medicaid Aromatic Plants in Albania

(from “Report on existing GAPs and Best Practices”) Albania has a long tradition in the production and export of MAPs. The main supply-side sector development driver is the abundance of wild-grown MAP. Around 15% of 3,250 species of Albania plants have medicinal, aromatic, spice, or tannin value. The industry has a long tradition spanning more than 60 years. Currently, the harvesting, cultivation, processing, and trade of MAPs represent a major agro-forestry business in Albania.

The driver of sector development is export, as 95% of total MAPs output is exported; the value chain leader or pivot is made of the 31 larger MAP processors/exporters.

Even if the sector leaders are relatively few, MAPs commodity chain involve several steps and related businesses and is labour-intensive. As whole, it is estimated the MAPs commodity chain contribute to the income of about 80.000 households MAPs harvesting and cultivation is a particularly important source of revenue for many rural households, particularly in mountain areas. There are no specific figures about the number of rural households involved in MAPs income-earning activities. Two 2010 surveys estimated that over 25% of the households in mountain areas were engaged in MAP harvesting and cultivation, with much higher figures in Malesia e Madhe (62%), Kukes (49%), Kolonje (41%), and Librazhd (39%) ; in the whole country, an estimated number of 20,000 households were engaged in MAPs collection. This figure has decreased in the last decade due to structural changes in mountain areas’ socio-economic fabric and the MAP sector in general.

The MAP sector international trades balance generates an important trade surplus, contributing to around 20% of all agriculture exports. During 2019 the country exported 33.33 million Euros of semi- processed and unprocessed MAP and imported only 1.48 million Euros. . Similarly, the trade balance for essential oil production is positive. During 2019, Albania exported 4.58 million Euros essential oil compared to just 119 thousand Euros of imports. These figures should be considered minimal, as some of the MAP industry outputs are classified under wider commodity codes; their quantities could be not extrapolated and added to the main items registered in the MAP specific commodity codes. According to sector associations, the volume of international trade is around 50 million Euros per year. Currently, the country ranks 16th at the world level in terms of exports (Eurostat 2020).

Wild-grown MAPs collection is spread over all the country, while MAP cultivation is concentrated in Malesia e Madhe, where more than 90% of farmers and cultivated areas are located. There are no reliable data on wild MAPs collection and MAPs cultivation: wild MAP licenses report indicative data, as a traceability System is not in place; available data on cultivated MAPs (MARD) provide information on surfaces and farmers’ number, but not on total output. In 2020, 4,601 ha were cultivated with MAPs by 6,797 farmers. Over 90% of farmers and cultivated areas are located in Malesia e Madhe. Also, there are no reliable data on quantities absorbed by the domestic market; however, value chain actors estimate that about 95% of total MAPs quantity is exported as dried MAP or essential oils.

Considering export data and processing yields, the total market-grade MAP flow is expected to score at least 12,500 tons/year (dried product mass), excluding losses. The range of cultivated MAPs is limited to a few crops: mostly sage, lavender, and thyme, which correspond to some of the products where Albanian exporters are stronger; the range of collected wild MAPs is much broader: only considering the exported ones about200 different types are recorded.
In the last ten years, the cultivated surface is sensibly increased, and the share of cultivated MAPs over the total is increased; this trend is due to increased overall demand and reduction in wild MAPs supply. Wild-grown MAPs still represent most of the total supply, but the share is different when considering different MAPs: the cultivated product’s share is much higher for sage and lavender, while most of the other Map’s types are collected only as a non-cultivated product.

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