Sheep farming - employment opportunity for the poor
Thanks to Growing Inclusive Markets (GIM) Kosovo, poor farmers that raise sheep now have a chance to improve their earnings by selling their wool to other companies – mainly to wool collecting sites in Ferizaj/Uroševac, Prizren and other regions of Kosovo.
But more important than just earning money in order to support their families and grow their businesses, the benefits accruing to these poor farmers come from thriving local value chains. By cooperating with other businesses they have a chance to secure markets for their product –sheep wool in this case. In addition, this means higher productivity, sustainable earnings and greater empowerment for the poor and marginalized groups. “Kosovo has a tradition in sheep farming, but like other sectors of Kosovo’s economy it is trying to re-establish itself through one pioneer company that began the commercial collection and export of wool”, according to the Sheep Sector Analyses Report conducted by GIM Kosovo.
In order to assist poor and marginalized sheep farmers GIM initiated “Improving value chain and new opportunities in Sheep Wool and Sheep Meat Market” project, which trained over 500 farmers in 9 regions, established 6 collection centres, and donated shearing equipment.
A local wool processing factory located in Dragash/Dragaš was purchased by a Turkish company “Rematex sh.a” and has now started to collect wool from local farmers and exporting it to Turkey and England, effectively linking marginalized groups such as poor sheep farmers to a larger export company. “Rematex sh.a” was identified by GIM Kosovo as a partner to implement this project.
Useful trainings by GIM/UNDP Kosovo
Berat Muja, a representative of the farmer’s society “Pro-Sharri”, says that until recently its member farmers were not well organized despite being members of this organization. Muja adds that training by a consultant hired by GIM Kosovo was offered to them. This local cooperation and partnership has also assisted sheep farmers in establishing a collecting point of sheep wool. There was also donated a sheep-shearing machine. “We profited from a training on how to shear sheep, how to collect the wool, how to conduct hiring of workers, etc”, emphasizes Muja while adding that the society of sheep farmers “Pro-Sharri” now is much better prepared for the Wool Shearing Fair that will start on 28 of September. ”During this fair, around 120 sheep farmers will discuss the collection of wool”, adds Berat Muja.
Rematex Textile Company bought around 1,000 tons of sheep wool from Kosovo farmers, while the local cooperation helped farmers create inclusive business chains through the establishment of 6 collecting centres of sheep wool in Gjilan/Gnjilane, Podujevë/Podujevo, Mitrovicë/Mitrovica, Rahovec/Orahovac, Prizren and Dragash/Dragaš.
With the assistance offered by GIM Kosovo, the local sheep farmers from the region of Dragash/Dragaš now have employment opportunities for the poor, especially those living in the poorest regions, as sheep farming does not require much capital investment or energy consumption.
Positive cooperation with GIM/UNDP Kosovo
“With the GIM Kosovo we had a very good cooperation, they helped us in setting contacts with several collecting points of sheep wool created by them, and also their consultant organized and held for us farmers a very useful training on how to shear sheep in an advanced technique”, says Fidan Skeraj the contact person at the co-op “Delja e Kosovës” from the region of Dragash/Dragaš in the municipality of Prizren, that has been running since May 2010.
According to him, “Delja e Kosovës” also cooperates with other farmers by offering them to use shearing machines and even collecting wool from distant farms.
“The sheep wool we sell in Turkey and England while now we export it to FYR of Macedonia depending on the requests and the offer made to us”, adds Skeraj. Wool producers were also offered match-making with Turkey-based companies and exchange promotion of know-how between Turkish businesses and small & medium businesses in Kosovo.
Bekim Koxha, the owner and manager of the “Qengji i Sharrit” sheep farm, says that he has exported around 120 tons of sheep wool that were sold to companies in Turkey and FYR of Macedonia. “Around 80 tons were shipped to Turkey while the rest, around 40 tons, to FYR of Macedonia”, emphasizes Koxha while adding that he personally is delighted with the cooperation with farmers and GIM Kosovo.
Koxha’s collection point is situated in a village on the outskirts of Ferizaj/Uroševac and currently holds 30 tons of sheep wool ready for export. More than 200 farmers from Prishtinë/Priština, Gjilan/Gnjilane, Kamenicë/Kamenica, Shtërpce/Štrpce, Kaçanik/Kačanik, Viti/Vitina, and Ferizaj/Uroševac have delivered their wool to Bekim Koxha’s collection point. “GIM Kosovo has negotiated between my company and the farmers and we are very much satisfied with their help because now the farmers come to us instead of us going to each of them”, specifies Koxha. In addition to the help they receive in finding client farmers, they also need assistance to acquire professional machines to select and clean the sheep wool - from the Government of Kosovo and international donors.
“If we would have this kind of support then we would lower the transportation costs and in one big truck we could transport 25 tons of sheep wool instead of just only 10 tons as we do now”, says Bekim Koxha while adding that the Government of Kosovo assisted him in preparing documentation about the sheep wool and helped him prepare technically his sheep wool collection point.
Sheep farms in Kosovo, according to Xhelal Luma – agricultural consultant and sheep expert hired by GIM Kosovo, are being assisted through advising and through help given in the creation of the business chain values. “Between the farmers on one hand and merchants, other farmers and co-op’s on the other hand, as in the case of ‘Rematex sh.a’ has been created a cooperation chain for the sheep wool through the GIM/UNDP Kosovo project implemented this year”, says Xhelal Luma.
He adds that the Government of Kosovo’s subvention of sheep farmers remains insufficient to further develop this essential sector in Kosovo. According to the Sheep Sector Analyses Report conducted by GIM Kosovo sheep farmers in Kosovo need to be allowed to export sheep to the EU. Kosovo sheep farmers also need to be supplied with a sheep breed that has more qualitative wool and increase the number of sheep in Kosovo since their number in the past years has been decreasing constantly.