Planting the Inclusivity Seed
Fruit and vegetable planting is an important part of everyday life, and has a deep impact on the daily needs of people in Kosovo. It is an important segment for economic development providing employment opportunities and income for more than 60 per cent of the households. According to the Kosovo Agriculture and Rural Development Plan 2007-2013, agriculture as a sector accounts for 20-30 per cent of Kosovo’s GDP and provides 25-35 per cent of employment in Kosovo.
However, further development of the vegetable and fruit farming in Kosovo still necessitates improvements and assistance from the Government of Kosovo and international donors. Through the “Support to farmers and SME’s in agriculture sector- Sector Study - Fruit and Vegetable” project, Growing Inclusive Markets (GIM) Kosovo offered training to more than 100 farmers and assisted in preparing more than 30 grant applications that were submitted to various donors. The first phase of this agricultural partnership is now successfully completed. One of the applying projects - a strawberry greenhouse- was granted over 90,000 USD by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the Municipality of Suharekë/Suva Reka and is now being implemented. The organization selected to implement the project “High strawberry production and quality & citizens welfare”, is NGO “Rimëkëmbja e Bujqësisë” from Suharekë/Suva Reka which represents local farmers.
This project was initiated by “Rimëkëmbja e Bujqësisë” and designed together by GIM Kosovo through its contractor Prishtina Regional Economic Agency (REA). It focused in the villages of Bukosh/Bukoš, Savrovë/Savrovo, Nepërbisht/Neperbište and Sallagrazhdë/Selogražde. Over the five month duration of the project, five modern greenhouses (metal-galvanized construction with plastic cover having four years warranty) each with surface of 0.05 Ha were installed, which also include a ‘drop by drop’ irrigation system. The financial support/grant was provided by Austrian Development Agency and Municipality of Suharekë/Suva Reka. “The farmers profited from the project and they are very much satisfied with it”, says Behxhet Basha from the “Rimëkëmbja e Bujqësisë”. The families chosen for the strawberry production had prior experience in the fruit and vegetable sector. Among the participants in this project are Hatixhe Gashi from Savrovë/Savrovo village, Valdete Bytyçi and Zgjim Zuba from the Bukosh/Bukoš village.
“Part of this project is also the installation of a mini-composter, to be used for recycling of the plants ‘remains, kitchen remains etc and making them into compost. The compost product will be used for the production of the seed material as well as for the creation of the opportunity for organic production throughout the farms”, says Behxhet Basha.
Ahmet Jetullahu, from the organization Prishtina REA that jointly developed the report “Sector Study - Fruit and Vegetable”, with GIM Kosovo, says that 6 inclusive business models have been identified for the vegetable and fruit planting. Jetullahu stresses that an important part of the project is also the cooperation with local partners for the creation of a sustainable business chain with the inclusion of the poor and marginalized farmers. Practical manuals on how to cultivate strawberries were produced to support farmers in promoting, selling and producing their fruits.
The main idea behind the project “Sector Study - Fruit and Vegetable” is the support of farmers with services regarding writing requests for funds and donations. The project was implemented in two phases. The first phase was composed of various activities, including the preparation of 29 applications to potential donors for the needs of small vegetable and fruit farmers, as well as drafting of a sectorial study, business models, recommendations, and trainings for farmers in 4 regions of Kosovo. Second phase mainly focused on supporting the implementation of grants already approved.
Municipality of Skenderaj/Srbica was chosen as a pilot area for the implementation of the advisory services. GIM Kosovo signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the above mentioned advisory services with this municipality. Exploring the market chain and identifying added value processes were an important part of this partnership in horticulture. GIM Kosovo through Prishtina REA linked the sectorial potentials to market opportunities and installed capacities towards the Piloting Advisory Services, as arranged with the Skenderaj/Srbica and neighbouring municipalities. In this direction, additionally, the project has identified the sector of medical and aromatic plants and wild fruit with a potential to grow, and has prepared a proposal regarding this segment in the sector of planting vegetable and fruit. The sector of fruits and vegetables in Kosovo has a potential. But this potential needs to be developed according to the climate and the cultures that are more suitable for the fertile land of Kosovo.