CNVP Albania has been strengthening the Rec Association for Agricultural Cooperation (AAC) in Shkoder region, Malesia e Madhe District. The association’s main activities relate to chestnut and sage value chains.

Concerning chestnuts, ACC works with a large network of farmers, including a core of 80 families from Reç and many other families in different chestnut producing villages in northern Albania. Reç AAC has played a key role over the last ten years in trading and exporting Shkoder region’s chestnuts to the benefit of the communities linked to it. Production is mainly exported to Italy, Greece and Serbia with the remainder sold to local markets. Rec ACC aims to improve the total value chain and the land available for agricultural activities, as well as adapt production to market requirements (in terms of quantity and quality) and encourage other activities to improve the financial position of its members. CNVP’s support for Reç AAC has focused on:

  1. building the organisation’s capacity for production, marketing, business development/networking, product management (involving pre and post-harvest care), and technical development;
  2. extending the sustainable management of chestnut areas e.g. introduction of proper silvicultural measures and species’ improvement techniques, preparation of participatory forest plantation plans, and implementation of agro-forestry models for nut production;
  3. mapping chestnut areas, and supporting the recognition of farmer user rights; and
  4. promoting learning through participation at regional and national exhibitions and thematic conferences, as well as at regional, national and international study visits.

Concerning sage production, Albania has become an important global player with Malesia e Madhe district in Shkoder region being the major producer of medicinal and aromatic plants in Albania. Factors such as unsustainable harvesting, unsupervised activities, lack of knowledge on product management, drying and storage, use of pesticides on plants and introduction of new uncertified varieties have caused heavy biodiversity and economic damage. CNVP is working with Rec ACC to support future actions to improve the overall value chain. Experimental agro-forestry models have been introduced involving inter-cropping of pomegranate and sage to diversify income flows and generate higher returns per hectare. Both crops require the same soil and climate.