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Capacity Building for Farmers and Other Local Actors for Diversification of Rural Activities. Agreement with FAO (United Nations Organization for Agriculture and Food)

The activities of this Project were carried out during the period December 2019 – December 2020. The main objective of this Agreement was: “Increasing the capacity of small farmers and other actors in the diversification of rural activities inside and outside the farm”

According to the Agreement, the project activities are organized under three outputs:

  • Output 1. Was focused on developing the capacities of actors at national and local level to increase their capacities, especially in diversifying incomes inside and outside the farm. The activities of this component are concentrated in three municipalities of the country, in Malësia e Madhe, Belsh and Korça. A series of training workshops have been conducted, both with farmers and with advisory service specialists;
  • Output 2. Was focused on preparing a national vision for e-agriculture  and integration in the inter-sectoral Strategy for Agricultural Rural Development (ISARD);
  • Output 3. Agrotourism as an alternative for diversification of economic activity in the rural areas of Malësia e Madhe, Belsh and Korça.                                                                                          

The main purpose of this output was to prepare an Agrotourism position paper in order to examine the current situation of the agritourism development in Albania, its challenges, and furthermore, to list several recommendations for future interventions.

V4-WB6 Incubator for Digital Farming (IDF)

This project, entitled “Digital Agriculture Incubator” was implemented during the period May 2018 to June 2019. The main purpose of creating the Incubator for Digital Farming was to create a meeting place for professionals, members of the regional and national project team by including students who have ideas, start-up or acting as a freelancer. The incubator has been hailed as a support for both agriculture and IT students to become more competitive through digital technology. The incubator has created opportunities for every student with start-up ideas to access the latest knowledge, expertise, and technology for testing and experimenting with digital innovations for agri-food purposes.Three universities from Albania, Skopje, and Pristina opened calls for ideas regarding on the use of Information and Communication Technologies in agriculture. The best ideas were selected to be developed in further stages. Pre-selected brainstorming teams were invited to make a presentation to the Project Evaluation Committee. Intensive 3-day monitoring of the selected ideas of each university resulted in a shortlist of 6 people for each country.

Then an intensive 5-day training for ideas / start up was realized at Szent Istvan University in Godollo, Hungary focused on topics such as:

  • Market research clinics and marketing advice on reaching all size farmers;
  • Business plan evaluation done at different stages of the incubation programme;
  • Scientific support through direct linkages with academic departments and faculty who do work relevant to their Digital Farming products;
  • Assistance in finding loans, grants, etc…

The best solutions/products are rewarded with small grants to support their development at the next stage. Financial awards were applied for first, second, and third place respectively.

Balkan Med INNOVA (Balkan-Mediterranean Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation)

From July 2017 until October 2020, was implemented the Project funded by EU  (Balkan-Mediterranean Interreg program” called “Balkan Med INNOVA”, which was implemented by a consortium of six specialized organizations from 5 different Balkan countries.

The consortium consisted of 6 organizations as follows:

  • Technological Educational Institute of Epirus – Special Account for Research Funds – DCE – Greece;
  • Joint Innovation Centre of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences – Bulgaria;
  • Youth Entrepreneurial Service Foundation – FYROM;
  • Rural Association Support Programme  – Albania;
  • Cyprus University of Technology – Cyprus;
  • VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTER OF THE REGIONAL UNIT OF LESVOS S.A.-Greece.

The overall objective of BalkanMed INNOVA was to support existing SMEs and/or potential new start-ups through training, exchange of knowledge and expertise, technology transfer; to support their key people and entrepreneurs to gain new skills, to get acquainted with the business environment in partner countries, to create new business opportunities, to create and consolidate transnational networks in their business sectors; and create innovative practices (through education, training and mentoring). This project has been implemented simultaneously in several Balkan countries and specifically in Greece, Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Cyprus. The project aims were to promote the entrepreneurial mentality, to encourage new businesses towards the application of innovative ideas and modern technologies, mainly for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as to promote a more entrepreneurial-friendly culture and the growth of small businesses, and medium.

The project was focused on 4 economic areas of strategic importance for the socio-economic development of countries:

  • Tourism and Cultural Heritage (TTK);
  • Agribusiness (AGRI);
  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT for SMEs);
  • Energy and Environment (EM).

The project also provided mentoring and training to potential entrepreneurs and included stimulating the entrepreneurial mentality, encouraging and creating start-up innovative businesses, and generally fostering an entrepreneurial culture. RASP’s contribution is focused on the preparation and development of curricula and programs for the agricultural sector. The project is addressed to all young entrepreneurs, who have started or want to start a business in the above areas. The project has organized training courses open to all, based on an online platform. At the end of the online training course, the participants who have completed the course are provided with training certificates and then in the next phase are assisted participants with expertise to develop their business ideas through the preparation of Business Plans. Four of the business plans rated as the most successful by an international Project committee have been continuously supported with a financial grant for the development of their business. Project-supported businesses have served as good role models for many other entrepreneurs who will follow these models in the future.

Cooperative Platform for ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) in Agricultural Advisory in the Western Balkans (WB) Based on Best Practices V4 (Visegrad Countries)

Starting from March 2017, RASP as part of the Consortium with several regional organizations has implemented the project “Collaborative Platform for ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) in Agricultural Advisory in the Western Balkans (WB) based on best practices of Visegrad-V4 countries. This project is financially supported by the Visegrad Fund. The project areas have included several countries such as Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia. The main goal of the project was to create a cooperation platform between the main stakeholders in the agri-food sector in V4 and the Western Balkan countries in order to create the basis for the adoption of ICT in agricultural advice in the Western Balkan countries based on the experience of V4. Utilizing regional experience in the field of ICT in agricultural advisory has enabled faster synchronization of the agri-food industry between partner countries, resulting in a higher economic development in the region.

Project results:

  • Transfer of knowledge and experience in the use of ICT in agricultural advisory;
  • The transfer of existing knowledge and experience in the use of ICT in agricultural extension in V4 (Visegrad countries) enabled the faster and more efficient adoption of these technologies in Agricultural Extension in PB countries and the avoidance of unnecessary obstacles in the process;
  • Gathering the experience of V4 countries in the use of ICT in agricultural advice and understanding the behavior of farmers in the Western Balkans (WB);
  • The exchange of valuable experiences in the use of ICT in the advisory service in V4 countries with the understanding of the behavior of farmers in BP countries enabled the creation of the basis for the personalized model for the adoption of these technologies in BP countries.

The document has been distributed to key actors in the Extensive Service system in BP countries and V4 countries. The document with the conclusions of the final event of the Project aimed to guide each of the stakeholders (Governments, Extensive Service, ICT Companies, Farmers’ Organizations) to adapt more efficiently in the process of implementing ICT in agricultural service in BP countries.

Small Livestock Value Chain Capacity Development Initiative: Dry Goat Meat

From June 2016 until the end of 2018 RASP has implemented the Capacity Development Project with four groups of farmers in 3 different regions of the country. This project is financially supported by SARED.The project has been implemented in the Has region. During the project implementation period, RASP worked with 2 groups of farmers, one group in Cahan village and one group in Gjinaj village, both located in Has municipality. The purpose of this Project was: Support for the development of a new product in this region (dried goat meat, based on local tradition).

The project was focused on 3 main objectives:

  • Building capacity of farmers to improve the drying process and food safety for dried meat;
  • Improving the processing structure and guaranteeing product standardization and quality control;
  • Develop a promotional campaign to introduce dried goat meat to the market.

This project has been implemented over a period of one and a half years and has included:

  • training of farmers in the technological aspects of the drying process;
  • training in improving management techniques;
  • study visits;
  • support for marketing and packaging development, etc…

An important element has been the involvement of women in all aspects of capacity building, going through training tailored specifically for them.

Livestock Value Chain (VC) Capacity Capacity Development Initiative: Increasing Sheep Meat Production

This initiative has been implemented in the Elbasan region. In this initiative, RASP has worked with farmers in the village of Shtermen. The farmers of this village had focused their activity on two main products. One product was the production of lambs and the other product was the production of sheep milk.The aim of this project was to increase farmers’ incomes through the improvement of agricultural techniques and the intensification of meat production, through the application of the intensive reproduction scheme “three lambing in two years”

The main objectives of this project were:

  • To prepare and develop a perspective plan for the production and marketing of lamb;
  • Improve their technical capacity and improve their breeding, feeding and animal selection techniques;
  • Introduce a new hormonal treatment technology for an intensive production of lambs (two lambings per year for one part of the flock);
  • Serval farmers apply for grants from SARED programs to receive investment support and equipment that will be included in the value chain (Processing, meat marketing and improvement of breeding animal technology).

Capacity Building in the Framework of Fruit Trees and Nuts Value Chain (VC): Dried Fig

This initiative has been implemented by RASP in the Berat region. In this initiative, RASP has worked with many farmers in the villages of Roshnik, Roshnik i vogël, Mimiasm Vojnik. The support aimed to continue the good tradition in the production and drying of figs in this region. Most farmers have a long experience in producing figs as well as drying them.

The main objectives in this project were:

  • Build the capacity of farmers to improve the drying process and food safety;
  • Improving the infrastructure to improve standardization and quality control;
  • Developing a promotional campaign;
  • Preparing a Business Plan and building sustainable marketing channels.

This initiative for capacity building of farmers has continued for a period of about 1 year and a half and has included training of farmers in aspects of the treatment of fig trees, drying technology, training to improve management techniques, and support for the development of marketing and packaging, etc.

Hasi Goat Meat Quality Label (Geographical Indication)

RASP has completed  “Hasi goat meat Quality Label” in the framework of the BiodivBalkans project Conservation and valorization of biodiversity for sustainable rural development in the Balkan mountain. The goal of the project was: Promotion of origin-linked products as Hasi goat kids via quality sign system, in Hasi district, which are expected to generate a sustainable development of agriculture and preservation of the biodiversity

Project Objectives :

  • To establish Hasi Goat Breed Association, validate a selection scheme and recognize as legitimate by all breeders on the basis of a participatory diagnosis of existing breeding and selection practices and an assessment of the breed performances (milk – meat – breeders); to establish a Herd Book is in conformity with national standards and requirements.
  • To build GI process around the Hasi Goat kid Meat through  delimitation of the territory, specification of the product (Hasi Goat Kid Meat), selection of the most adapted label and registration of the product (as GI or Red Label), and establishment of a producer group, dissemination and publicity of the product.

Farm-Tour: Development of Agrotourism in Northern Albania and Eastern Montenegro

The project “Farm-Tour: Development of Agrotourism in Northern Albania and Eastern Montenegro”, financed by the European Union under the IPA Cross Border Cooperation Program Albania-Montenegro is currently being implemented by RASP, as the main applicant and the partner organizations from Montenegro, Regional Tourism Organization Bjelasica & Komovi. This project’s concept of agrotourism is connected to rural areas and agriculture, including traditional practices of production, processing, or usage of products. Therefore, the project is extended in areas, which are known for the development of farming activities such as in three communes of Albania, in Margegaj (Tropoje), Shishtavec (Kukes), and Fierza, and in 2 communes in Montenegro, in Plave and Andrejevica.

In the framework of this project it was realized the following promoting video clip:

AGROTURISM, A NEW DESTINATION!

The project aims at developing and promoting a sustainable tourism through the establishment of pilot agrotourism activities in the border areas of Northern Albania and Eastern Montenegro, based on the usage of natural and cultural resources and also in a large involvement of local government in this process. All the communes mentioned above will be involved as main partners in the project. A network of 20 pilot farms will be established on both sides of the border, in Albania and Montenegro, that will serve as a model for agrotourism, which stands on local tradition, cultural inheritance of each region in order to offer the visitors a unique tourism experience.

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