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THE WESTERN BALKANS - ALBANIA
Albania is predominantly a mountainous country, located in the far south of the Western Balkans, between the continental and the Mediterranean climate zone. Geographically, Albania is very narrow in comparison to the length of its coast, so the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea significantly influence the climate, flora, and fauna of much of the country. The mountainous terrain, in combination with the position at the meeting point of different climatic zones,creates ideal conditions for the development and survival of a large number of endemic plant and animal species.
Agriculture in Albania
The agricultural sector continues to be one of the most important sectors of the Albanian economy.
56% of the population lives in rural areas, where agriculture is the main activity.
53% of the total agricultural production is livestock breeding.
Agricultural production increased by an average of 3% between 2002 and 2006. The yield increase is particularly related to grapes, potatoes, milk, eggs, and fruit. In addition, fruit production increased by 70%, animal origin food production by 21% and crop production by 10%. In addition, thevegetable production also significantly increased, especially in greenhouses. On the other hand, the surface of the arable land under wheat is significantly reduced.
73% of the farms are mechanized; 24% use only animal tow and 3% are manually processed.
The main problems related to agriculture are: population leaving rural areas; very limited size of farms (on average 1.1 ha divided into 3.9 plots, compared to EU average, 25 parcels of 23 ha); poor marketing of products; undeveloped irrigation and drainage systems; low technological level; poor organization of farmers and low level of the development of processing industry. In general, there is little interest in investing in agricultural activities (NSSED, 2003, Zdruli, 2000).
Agricultural lands of high nature value in Albania
In Albania, there are about 400,000 hectares of natural pastures. The largest areas of summer pastures are found in the districts of Tropoje, Dibr, Kukeš, Korča, Gjirokastra, and Kolonje. Summer pastures are used for around 150 days a year, from May 15 to October 15. Winter pastures are located along the coastal and hilly areas between 400-800 m. The most striking massifs of winter pastures are Delvine and Vrina (Sarande), Karaburun, Šušice and pastures between the Vjosa and Šušica (Valona) rivers, Malakaster (Fier) and Dumre (Elbasan).
The mosaic landscape of low production volume in Albania usually consists of vegetable gardens, arable plots, orchards, vineyards, and grasslands. Traditional orchards and vineyards that are planted on very small plots are mostly located in the central and southeastern parts of the country (Prespa National Park).
The typical agricultural system in Albania includes significant natural and semi-natural grasslands. Historically speaking, Albania has barely used fertilizers to increase pasture productivity. Extensive and traditional livestock production systems use domestic species of animals, primarily local cattle, donkeys, pigs, and goats. Small farms with 10 to 30 animals (mostly sheep and goats) are still dominant. However, there is a growing trend in the number of medium-sized farms with an average of 150 animals per herd in the southern parts of the country. Until recently, nomadic livestock breedingwas practiced throughout the country but is now mostly limited to southeastern parts of Albania.
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