Socio-economic empowerment of vulnerable groups through agriculture

Agriculture represents a significant contribution in the national economy, which, although is in need of modernization, fighting high land fragmentation and high productivity shortages, represents approximately 20% of Gross Domestic Product. However, studies have shown that the agricultural sector along with tourism have the greatest potential for growth and development.

In recent years there has been a slow recovery of agriculture, but structured and consistent support for this sector remains a major problem, especially for vulnerable groups who do not have the necessary knowledge, training and financial means. This has led over the years to multiple consequences for these groups, increasing their unemployment and migration. Not enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened these phenomena even more.

The Open Society Foundation for Albania (OSFA) is focused on supporting initiatives that target precisely the agricultural sector, where the main actors of engagement are vulnerable groups. The pilot project "Socio-economic empowerment of vulnerable groups through agriculture" will provide a practical model for socio-economic empowerment of vulnerable groups through the agricultural sector. The aim of the project is to engage in agriculture the vulnerable Roma group in the village of Baltëz, Fier Municipality, by empowering them economically through increasing their income from the cultivation of their lands and establishing a farm model that represents a sustainable development for the future.

Why this project is important?

The Roma community is the main vulnerable group in Baltëz, where agriculture is the main opportunity for income generation. They do not have sufficient knowledge and financial opportunities to engage in the agricultural sector. Despite a very suitable land for cultivation, the Baltëz area is characterized by land fragmentation, migration and lack of investments, informal ownership, etc.

Given this situation, during the year 2021 the first phase of this pilot project was implemented thanks to the support of the OSFA and the engagement of the Plants Genetic Resources Association (AGPR) when 14 farming families united their lands in an area of 11.6 ha. From the implementation of the project, it was achieved:

  1. Economic empowerment of 14 Roma families and development of the social aspect of the community by building trust between them.
  2. Complete and simultaneous planting of plots created the possibility to mechanize all working processes, enabling the production of 56,4 ton of wheat.
  3. The project enabled the application of contemporary cultivation technology using qualitative seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.
  4. The immediate sale of the product, avoiding the hassle and expense of storing, processing and selling the product individually. This enabled farmers to generate 15,000 $ in income for their families.
  5. The farmers in the project were first provided with the planimetry of the plots and then with the Land Acquisition Act (AMTP). With the support of the project we have completed the procedures for equipping farmers for the first time with ownership certificates.
  6. The project helped the Roma community in Baltëz to establish a joint farm for them and their families.
     

Throughout 2022 the project will continue the second phase by expanding the number of families participating in the project and the area of land planted. Thanks to studies conducted by the field experts, the possibility of uniting farmers by setting up an Association for Agricultural Cooperation is being considered.

The piloting aims to be promoted and replicated in other areas where vulnerable communities live. The project can serve as an alternative to influence government policies to design financial support programs for building sustainable and new models of socio-economic development.

For more information on the project, you can watch the video and / or contact info@osfa.al