Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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President Begaj’s Speech at the 3rd Edition of “Agriculture Days”

It is with great pleasure and keen interest that I visit the international fair “Agriculture Days.” I wish to start by thanking all participants, especially those coming from the countries of the region and beyond. It is delightful to see participants from Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Italy, Greece, Austria, Israel, and many other countries. This shows that our farmers’ products have managed to compete and create successful partnerships even in international markets.

The significance of this fair is linked to the fact that agriculture is not just an economic activity but also the foundation on which a modern and sustainable economy is built. It revitalizes the local economy, and this is best seen in one of our most agricultural regions. The people of Lushnje, with their enduring love and labor, have cultivated a close relationship with the land generation after generation. The farmers of Myzeqe have been and remain a part of the dinner tables across Albania.

This third edition, which has now established a tradition in presenting agricultural products, brings more experience, more information about your products, technologies, and new financing opportunities for both domestic and foreign markets each year. I invite you to use this platform to show how you have increased the diversity, quality, and competitiveness of your products over the years.

This fair is important not only for farmers and agribusinesses but also for consumers. Albanian consumers should consume quality products that meet food safety standards. You, who are engaged in agriculture and livestock, understand very well how hard the road is, but you know just as well how sweet success is because the fruits that agriculture brings, by nature, are unique.

You deserve our collective gratitude for the extraordinary contribution you make to our quality of life. Healthy and safe food is the foundation of well-being and quality of life. In our Albania, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries play an important role in both population well-being and employment. It is also a fact that in recent years Albanian food products have become more competitive in the domestic market and international markets. Today we export 1 and import 2.6, whereas four years ago, we exported 1 and imported 3.1, or many years ago exported 1 and imported 5.

Naturally, the situation is far from the expectations and possibilities of the sector. Data show that the sectors of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries are growing slower than the economy as a whole. We have been discussing long-term strategies for years, yet we are also lacking tactics for immediate challenges. Agriculture faces demographic challenges mainly due to rapid urbanization and emigration. The move from rural areas is not due to the allure of city lights, within or outside the country, but due to the inability to have a lifestyle that brings not only personal achievements but also contributes to societal well-being.

God has blessed all lands, all countries. Indeed, when we look at the Lushnje area, we realize that perhaps we have been favored. Now, it is in human hands, our hands, to care for it. You, as professionals in the sector, deserve support in your economic and patriotic activities. Naturally, this support should come not only as a result of government policies but also from private sector actions.

There can be no economic development in capitalism, in any sector, without investments and credit. The agricultural sector, although it accounts for about 18-19% of the country’s production, receives no more than 1% of the total credit leveraged by domestic creditors. Naturally, the sector, along with opportunities for profit, presents a risk for capital. I am pleased to see an increased presence of banking institutions at this fair, and I invite them to invest in this field. We have all the possibilities to develop an agriculture with diversified products that utilize the opportunities of high technology and digitalization.

Also, the regionalization of agricultural products, using the comparative advantages of each of the regions of Albania, will better reward the effort and sweat of farmers and livestock keepers. With developed agriculture, we can also support the long-term and sustainable development of tourism. This will bring added value to agricultural products and integrate our farmers into the value chain, from production to consumption.

The simultaneous development of positive and negative developments observed in the agricultural sector shows that the sector is restructuring, and labor and capital resources are shifting towards more profitable activities. This is a necessary and essential process within the framework of further integration of our economy into the European Union.

Naturally, restructuring also requires the continuation of public investments in rural infrastructure, support, and public guarantees in the sector’s missing credit, as well as carefully targeted subsidies for the most affected activities. Also, I believe that encouraging initiatives for young people and financial support for them would bring even more positive results.

In my visits across Albania, I’ve encountered many inspiring cases of individuals who have returned from abroad to invest in their homeland, utilizing their overseas experiences. I am convinced that with the support of the entire society, agriculture can reach its full potential. Agricultural products made in Albania should also be a national pride.

We have all the possibilities.

Now, what is needed is determination to continue the work we have started and a love for this land.