TIRANA – Representatives of Directorate General “Agriculture and Rural Development” (DG AGRI) of the European Commission will visit Albania and will attend the 2nd meeting of the IPARD Monitoring Committee on Wednesday March 29.
Under the Instrument for Pre-accession for Rural Development (IPARD), Albanian agricultural sector will receive 71 million EUR financing for the period 2014-2020. Taking into account national and private co-financing, this already significant amount will result in more than 160 million EUR of total investments. This will provide the Albanian agriculture and rural development sector with an opportunity to enhance the competitiveness of farming and food sector, to apply and comply with the national and EU standards on food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary requirements both for the benefit of local consumers and to allow accessing the EU markets for Albanian products, and to diversify the economic activities in rural areas of the country leading to better quality of rural livelihoods. The implementation of IPARD is also a preparation of the Candidate States of the EU for implementing the Rural Development programmes (so called 2nd pillar of EU Common Agricultural Policy) for EU Members States.
Priority areas for funding have been outlined in the Albanian IPARD programme, which was adopted by the European Commission in 2015. At this stage, the intention is to implement three measures:
- Investments in agricultural holdings,
- Investments in agro processing and marketing,
- Diversification of farm activities.
The IPARD funds will become available to farmers, agri-food companies and rural inhabitants once the process of “entrustment” of IPARD management and operating structures with budget implementation tasks is finalised. For being entrusted, capacities and resources of the Management Authority of MARDWA and the IPARD Agency (ARDA) and a range of technical bodies which have a task of verifying compliance with the standards are assessed by the National Authorising Officer (which is the Deputy Minister of Finance) first and then by the auditors from the European Commission.
IPARD funds require fulfilling of strict requirements by the farms and agribusinesses and thorough controls to be carried out by the national authorities. The fulfilment of those requirements is of utmost importance in order to use well the funds made available to the country. On the other side, fulfilment of EU standards will assure that the Albanian production can have market access and be competitive on the EU market.
Albania has already submitted the application for entrustment package to the European Commission.