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29 June – 3 July 2021

New impulse and mechanisms for boosting the development of rural areas of Albania – Project “Academy from Farm to Fork – V4 for Sustainable Agriculture in Albania.”

In the framework of the Academy from Farm to Fork, a project financed by Visegrad Fund, the Albanian Network for Rural Development (ANRD) implemented a series of activities, carried out in the presence of the project’s farmer-beneficiaries, experts from Visegrad countries, and representatives of partner network organizations at the local level.

The activities started with a visit to the Ferro family farm on June 30, 2021, in the village of Mbrostar in Fier, where a Hydroponic Implant was introduced, deployed by the young and energetic economist Eriselda Ferro with funds from this project. The fully functional implant is of service to animal feed production at a low cost while respecting biodiversity and environmental sustainability. During the workshop were presented along with the postulates of the new Green Agreement, also the structure of the pilot project, its implementation environment, advantages, weaknesses, piloting opportunities in other farms, as well as elements of the environment and sustainable development. After evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the investment, foreign and domestic experts responded to the interest of the present young people regarding the opportunities to live a dignified life in the village against the desire to emigrate. Young people expressed interest in learning more about innovative investment opportunities in rural areas and increasing access to them. Visegrad experts and ANRD representatives promised greater involvement of rural youth in future Visegrad fund projects as well as enhanced opportunities for exchange and networking for rural youth.

On July 1, the trip continued to Përmet town, where the participants headed to the remote village of Gostivisht to visit the Sali Bee Farm and meet the passionate beekeeper Flora Sali, who introduced her beehive and farm surrounding everyone present with her warm and sincere hospitality. Experts from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia shared their ideas and experiences with Flora and her family regarding ways of developing agritourism in rural areas, diversify the economy, increase the visibility of these areas and their unique resources, and increase exchange and networking, that would bring more tourists and more income for small rural families. Enjoying the wonderful nature and the best local culinary tradition, they expressed enthusiasm to return later as tourists to this exceptional corner of Albanian nature.

The activities were concluded on July 2nd in Durrës, where the third pilot investment presentation, “Poultry Farm in the Butterfly Camping” by Labinot Murrja, Luzni, Dibër, took virtually place. Labinot introduced to the audience his camping set up by the river, in the Butterfly Canyon, launched as a modest investment of an idealistic young man and turned into a well-known destination for all the visitors passionate about mountain and adventure tourism. He explained the idea of enriching the value chain of the tourist services he had offered so far with the traditional food dishes based on fresh ingredients obtained from the newly established poultry farm. His optimism to stay in the village and his desire for further achievement and progress were assessed by Visegrad experts as crucial factors that would help rural youth be locally employed, so changing the bleak reality by opening up new perspectives for rural areas.

The event carried on with a Roundtable on lessons learned from pilot investments and their evaluation. At this spot through their presentations, the Visegrad experts brought to the table very interesting experiences and insight from the rural realities of the countries they came from. They sincerely praised the efforts of Albanian colleagues on the path of setting up initiatives for sustainable rural development and the protection of biodiversity. The main purpose of the demonstration workshops consisted in giving visibility to these initiatives as a good opportunity to be piloted in other rural areas of Albania, orienting small farmers towards increasing the sustainability and diversification of their activities with the final goal of improving life in rural areas and stopping the hemorrhage of abandonment and depopulation of the countr y.