14 June 2019 – The series of matchmaking events initiated by the “Albania Agribusiness Support Facility” (AASF) to promote cooperation between farmers and partner financial institutions (PFIs) ended today in Saranda, with an event focusing on the cultivation of mandarin, olive oil and citrus fruits. Representatives from small and medium-sized businesses, PFIs (Raiffeisen Bank, Otp Bank, Intesa SanPaolo Bank and Fondi Besa), EBRD and local public institutions of the Saranda region participated in the meeting.
During the meeting, representatives from AASF presented AASF as an innovative instrument, aiming at motivating financial institutions to finance agribusinesses along the agricultural value chain. In addition, participants were also introduced to other support services offered by EBRD through the program, such as business consultancy.
Due to the favourable climate, the southern region presents very favourable conditions for the cultivation of citrus and other similar crops, an opportunity which according to AASF should not be left unused. AASF presented a technical presentation on mandarin cultivation, highlighting the economic potentials and financing opportunities for the PFIs.
“The olive oil and citrus production are two priority sectors for the Albanian government, and this creates the possibility of co-financing. Banks are already familiar with the technical assistance offered by AASF Program and the financial support guarantee offered by the EBRD and the Albanian government.” – said Professor Engjëll Skreli, Value Chain Finance Expert and AASF team member.
“Mandarin production contributes to two-thirds of the national citrus consumption in Albania, which is currently about 26,000 tonnes, while experts are convinced that production capacities can go up to 50,000 tons. Of course, this cannot be achieved without the financial and technical support, such as the one offered through AASF”, said Llukan Kote, Xara entrepreneur in the citrus sector.
The exchange between farmers and financial partner institutions at the end of the event was very fruitful, resulting in higher awareness of sector specific potentials and obstacles for the PFIs. Meetings between farmers, entrepreneurs and PFIs have proven to be helpful in raising awareness among beneficiaries regarding support schemes implemented in Albania through cooperation with central and local government.
Insurance sector representatives also participated in the event, pointing out the need for farmers to invest in insuring their enterprises, considering the sensitivity of this industry towards climatic or natural hazards. “Everything can be assured, especially businesses in the agriculture sector, which are more exposed to natural hazards or dangers.” – said Sajmir Bajramaj, Branch Director of Sigal Uniqa Group Saranda.
While Saranda was the last stop at the AASF event tour, the program will continue to provide financial and technical support to all businesses in the agribusiness sector. Other activities and new initiatives will be implemented soon.