Kosovo Grant Program Boosts Farmers
August 13, 2014
Nazmi Blakaj is an apple farmer in the Istog region of Kosovo.
Although still early in the season, he says that he and his family are already better off than in previous years, thanks to a new storage system which Blakaj purchased with a government grant.
We have huge amounts of apples which we will store here. Until now we didn’t have this storage system, and it is an ideal solution.
The temperature-controlled facility allows for better preservation of the orchard’s fruit and greatly lengthens the shelf life of this fruit.
“We have huge amounts of apples which we will store here. Until now we didn’t have this (storage system), and it is an ideal solution,” says Nazmi Blakaj.
Blakaj is benefiting from Kosovo’s Agriculture and Rural Development Project, backed by the World Bank.
The project promotes competitiveness and growth in Kosovo’s horticulture and livestock sectors - in part through grants for improved infrastructure and equipment for people working in those areas. The project has also received funding from the Government of Denmark to scale-up the impact of the grant program.
Sales are up and costs are down at Milazim Berisha’s yogurt factory in the village of Miradi, since a grant allowed him to buy updated pasteurizing and packing equipment and revamp the factory’s energy system so that it uses cheaper fuel.
“It is crucial to have new investments in our dairy farm to increase the level and improve the quality and safety of food - I think that the aid we received has been a great help,” says Berisha.
Brothers Zeqir and Ibush Lalinovci agree- saying meat and dairy production at their farm in the region of Ferizaj has more than doubled since receiving a grant to purchase equipment and build a new barn.
“After construction of the new barn we invested our own money and bought new cows,” Zeqir Lalinovci says.
In addition to the grants, the project provides valuable training to people in the agriculture and horticulture sectors. The training includes lessons on improved agricultural techniques, the development of business plans, and how and where to apply for increased funding.
We help teach them to write proposals so that they will be able to apply for grants provided by the ministry of agriculture.
Ejub Ismajli, a civil servant in Kosovo’s Shtime region, was trained under the project to help farmers better decide what to plant, and when - as well as how to apply for government and other financial assistance.
“We help teach them to write proposals so that they will be able to apply for grants provided by the ministry of agriculture,” says Ismajli.
An estimated 4000 people are expected to benefit from the expanded operations and increased number of jobs being created by the agricultural project across the country.
Rexhep Spahiu says he’s hired more field hands and increased his crops, thanks to a project grant for new equipment, and a new greenhouse.
“We were importing fruits in the past, but in a very short time we have been able to meet all the needs of our local markets,” Spahiu says.
Spahiu is now producing enough pears, apples, and strawberries to meet local demand, with enough left over to export abroad.
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