Albanian farmers receive the lowest government subsidies in the region – EURACTIV.com
Albanian farmers receive 18 times less financial support from the state than other countries in the region, according to an analysis published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, raising concerns about the distribution of EU funds.
Agriculture contributes about 20% of Albania’s annual gross domestic product. But more than that, it provides essential sustenance to many people who do not work outside the agricultural sector and depend on agriculture for food.
The FAO report shows that Albanian farmers only receive €3 in direct aid per hectare from the state, while €42 goes to institutions and entities that monitor the agricultural sector. This is the reverse of the situation in other countries where the majority of funds go directly to the farmer.
In Kosovo €69 per hectare goes to the farmer and €54 to the administration, while in Bosnia €66 goes to the farmer and €60 goes to the administration.
On average, the Western Balkan countries gave around €53 per hectare to their farmers, while in Albania the figure was 18 times less at just €3.
The FAO report notes that the government provides very little public funding to farmers and that money for the sector is not going where it should.
With this level of funding, the report says the state is not providing enough support to farmers to face market competition, prevent rural depopulation or increase productivity. As such, the country should urgently increase direct funding and improve the functioning of institutions so that funds can be properly absorbed.
To meet the EU criteria, Albania must allocate the equivalent of one third of what it expects from EU funding. Therefore, Albania must increase its allocation for agriculture by at least five times.
But the situation of farmers is more serious if we consider their income.
In 2021, some 41% Albanians worked in the agricultural sector, but the majority did not receive any form of salary.
In mid-2021, according to INSTAT, only 54,000 of the 540,000 agricultural workers were paying social security, while the rest claimed to be unpaid self-employed.
This is because the workers are “employed” in the family business, produce a living, or are self-employed. There are also many who operate in the informal economy.
Earlier in May, it was announced that some €112 million of European funds were earmarked for the Albanian agricultural sector under the IPARD III programme.
The program covers the years 2021 to 2027 and aims to support sustainable food systems by strengthening the competitiveness of the agri-food sector and progressively aligning it with the EU acquis. Furthermore, it aims to improve the efficiency and sustainability of on-farm production to meet the demand for safe, nutritious and sustainable food and animal welfare.
Other key principles of the initiative include facilitating business development and employment in rural areas and improving the position of farmers in the value chain. It also helps attract more farmers to the area and improves community development at the local level.
The Albanian government will add another €34m to the EU figure, bringing the total to €146m.