Overview of Quality Schemes in Albania

(from “Report on existing GAPs and Best Practices”) Albania, has adopted in February 2019 the law on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs. This law establishes quality schemes and identifies the responsible bodies for the recognition and protection of denominations of origin, geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed. It is important that the full package of by laws is aligned in order for the System to function and products to be registered. There are several agricultural products and foodstuffs, wines, and other industrial products in Albania that are already protected by GIs. In addition, there is a potential for other products and processes that could be protected at the national level by one of the GIs or TSG.

On the other hand, the registration of a geographical indication is a collective activity, for which producers should be aware. The organization in Cooperatives or SHBB is the best option to join forces to produce more, ensure food safety standards, marketing standards improvement and accessing new markets. In Albania there are already established many associations but they are not sufficiently functioning. The main issue in Albania is the land fragmentation and small size of farms. It is evident that in Albania the consumers prefer to consume the local products. What create obstacles is mostly the perception of the food safety in Albania. Usually, local traditional food is not labelled and not controlled by the institutions (considering the duties of the legal basis).

During the last year there has been improvement on this sector as the legal basis for the agriculture products under quality schemes and its bylaws have been prepared.

Strategies links and legal basis

Inter-sectoral strategy for agriculture and rural development in Albania ISARD (2014-2020) is the strategy guidance for the development of the agriculture and rural development. This strategy has been prepared in line with the EU strategic planning approach for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2014-2020 and as an integral part of the preparation of the National Strategy for Development and Integration (NSDI).

One of the specific objectives of the inter-sectorial strategy is to create a balanced territorial development of rural areas by promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and balanced economic development in rural areas. Fostering diversification of economic activities, job creation and social inclusion, and improve living conditions in rural areas will be the “key” of rural economic development of a specific territory.

This objective it is expected to be a priority even in the new ISARD 2021-2027 which is under development by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

On the domestic market, there is a strong consumer preference for domestic/local products, which translates domestic food demand growth into an opportunity for domestic producers. More specifical^, most consumers choose their products based on their origin, generally preferring domestic products. It also appears that within the domestic product group, there are significant differences in perceptions based on the region of Albania in which they were produced. Based on the association of typical product to specific regions, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indications (PGI), or Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) can be promoted through government (central and local), Public Private partnership, Donors, etc.

In the Industrial property field, Geographical Indications and Designations of Origin are protected under the Law no. 9947, dated 07.07.2008 “On Industrial Property”, as amended. The last amendments entered into force on March 25, 2017. The main articles of law concerning Gl are found in Articles 176 to 188, especially dedicated to Gl and are the basis of the definition, conditions and rights of protection, the procedure for registration and execution of the rights.
The chapter of geographical indications and designations of origin of the law 9947, is in harmony with the recently approved Law no. 8/2019, dated 26.02.2019, of the Ministry of Agriculture “On Quality Schemes of Agricultural and Food Products”. The Law No 8/2019 of 26.02.2019 “On quality schemes for agricultural proudest and foodstuffs” is partially approximated with the Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on quality schemes for agricultural proudest and foodstuffs.

The law on the quality scheme of agricultural and foodstuff also sets out the duties and competences of the bodies responsible for:

  • verification of compatibility of registered agricultural and food products such as TSG, PDO, PGI with product specifications, before placing them on the market;
  • verification of compliance with product specifications for registration requirements designations of origin and geographical indications for agricultural and food products, such as is defined in the law on industrial property;
  • evaluation of applications for registration of the denomination “Traditional Guaranteed Specialty”
  • carrying out official controls to verify the compatibility of agricultural products and registered foodstuffs, such as TSG, PDO, PGI, with the requirements set out in this law

This law determines: the rules for the functioning of the quality System of agricultural and food products, to ensure: a) fair competition for farmers and producers of agricultural and food products with characteristics and indicators of value-added quality; b) the necessary information for the consumer, for the quality of these products.

: Duties and competencies of the bodies responsible for the registration of designations of origin

  • The way has been paved for the recognition and certification of agri-food agricultural products with three main systems approximated to the EU which are: Designation of Protected Origin (EOM), Protected Geographical Indication (TGJM) and Traditional Guaranteed Specialty (STG).
  • At the same time MARD is supporting the identification of new products in 6 regions Diber, Shkodra, Korca, Gjirokastra, Vlora and Tirana, preparing the first groups of producers to certify products according to the designations of origin defined in the regulations.
  • Construction and development of quality systems enables the identification, certification, monitoring and market protection of products that enjoy the status of traditional products.

The Commission for Quality Schemes has been set up and is functioning in the ministry for the evaluation of applications for the designation STG and the substantive evaluation of product specifications for PDOs and Gl.

For the implementation of the Law several Decisions of the council of Ministers have been approved:

  • DCM no. 860 of 24.12.2019 “On functioning, duration, organisation and tasks of Quality Schemes Commission for agricultural products and foodstuffs”
  • Guideline of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development no.7 of 21.04.2020 “On the form and content of the register of quality products”
  • Order of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development no. 299 of 29.07.2020 “On approval of the list of agriculture products for human consumption and foodstuff”
  • Order of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development no.424 of 16.10.2020 “On the form and content of the quality certificate” confirming the compliance of the agricultural and food products with the specifications. The order determines the format and content of the quality certificate which is to verify the compliance of the agricultural or food product with the technical specifications of the products registered as traditional specialty guaranteed (TSG), protected geographical indication (PGI) and protected designation of origin (PDO).
  • Order of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development no.425 of 16.10.2020 “On the format of application and opposition”
  • Decision of Council of Ministers no. 401, date 06.07.2021 “Defining detailed criteria for approval and competencies of the certification bodies”
  • Decision no 677 date 16 10 2019_On Approval of Logo for TSG

So far in Albania are registered 17 GIs/DOs products based on law on property Law no. 9947, dated 07.07.2008 “On Industrial Property”:

While the Ministry of Agriculture and GIZ have supported the registration of the first 6 SHBB which will registerthe agriculture products under the quality schemes law.

There are 5 group of producers registered:

  1. Djath i Ziem Vele?iku SHBB – NUIS M18017702L
  2. ShegaDevedishe SHBB – NUIS M16818002R
  3. Qepa e Drishtit SHBB – NUIS M16821002J
  4. Mjalti i Bedunicès, Gostivisht SHBB – NUIS M19222201G
  5. Kalinjoti SHBB – NUIS M16825203D

Institutional Set up in Albania is established based on the definitions of the current legai framework as follows:

  1. The Committee on Quality Scheme – CQS The Quality Schemes Committee is established by and within the MARD. This Committee is consisted of 7 members, two representatives from the ministry and five experts from academic, scientific or independent research institutions, with extensive knowledge on issues related to PDOs, PGIs, TSGs, with professions such as: culinary specialists, ethnographer / historian, food technologist and agronomist.
  2. Industrial Property Agency – IP Directorate Albanian Directorate of Industrial Property is a government Institution which grants and protects patents. IP Directorate is a public Institution under the Ministry of Finance and Economy. Its legai basis is based upon national legislation and international conventions and treaties to which the Republic of Albania is party. It is responsible for administering all the procedures related to industrial property rights. IP Directorate provides reliable examination and registration related to: patents, trademarks, industrial design and geographical indications; Drafts and composes laws and regulations related with IP System; Represents Albania and fulfills obligations in conjunction with bilateral agreement with homologue office and other organism and international organizations for issues of the industrial property.
  3. The National Food Authority – NFA implements the Government’s policy related to food safety issues and it is the competent authority with inspection functions for the national level management of safety field and consumer protection and plant protection. Its role is set out in the Law No. 10433 for Inspection in the Republic of Albania, dated 16.06.2011; and Law No. 9863 on Food, dated 28.01.2008 and amended. In accordance with the Law No. 8 2019 on Quality Scheme and Foodstuff, the NFA is the competent authority responsible for carrying out official controls to verify the compatibility of agricultural and food products registered as PDO, PGI and TSG, with the requirements.
  4. Certification, Auditing and Controlling bodies in accordance with the requirements of the Law No. 8/2019 on the quality scheme of agricultural and foodstuff, certifying bodies carry out verification of compatibility of agricultural products and foodstuff with product specifications. The certification body shall be approved if it is accredited in accordance with the European Standard EN 45011 or ISO / IEC17065, according to the legislation in force in the field of accreditation. The certification body shall submit the results of the checks carried out regularly and whenever requested. However, the detailed criteria for the approval and competence of certification bodies shall be established with the decision of the Council of Ministers.

Schematic organization of the System (ref. SWG report “Schemes of Geographical Indications and Traditional Specialities in South East Europe”)

Organic farming is a mode of agricultural production that uses organic production methods and places the greatest emphasis on the protection of the environment and wildlife and, in relation to livestock production, animal welfare. Organic production includes general production management systems for crops and livestock, overseeing on-farm and out-of-farm management practices. Organic products are plant or animal products, which are controlled at all stages of production and processing, from the first step to the consumer, treated without the use of products and methods that harm humans, the environment or the ecosystem.

Related to organic production, Albania moved its first steps in 1997, when the first Organic Agriculture Association (OAA) was founded with the support of different international donors. Today, the main actors working for the development of organic agriculture in Albania are the Institute for Organic Agriculture, the Albanian Association for Marketing, and Albinspekt (a certification body).

Albania has in force the Law No 106/2016 “On biologic production, labelling of biological products and their control” while sub legai acts are under preparation. The government provides subsidy schemes related to organic production where an increased trend of application is observed during 2021. The national supporting scheme for organic production in 2021 was: Organic farms, for the first year of conversion, are supported by 750 euro, in the second year by 1,200 euro and farms certified as organic by 1,500 euro.

The institutional set up is in place. The national commission on biologic production (CBP), which is responsive for approval and supervision of control bodies operates in Albania. Albinspect institution was reconfirmed as control body for certification of organic operators according the national law.

During 2020, the statistical data identify a total number of 121 organic operators, Agriculture producers 118 of which 46 Producers that are also Processors, 53 processors and 37 exporters. During the 2020 the number of organic operators was increased by 39% compare with the previous year.

Through the support of donors there are identified main products which could be registered under quality schemes as PDO, Gl and TSG. (Ref. GIZ report)

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