One step further to a solid partnership with Food Heroes
- FAO Albania together with its national partners celebrated the first virtual World Food Day
On 16 October, FAO and its national partners in Albania, including representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), MARD Extension Service, the private sector, academia and NGOs, convened for a virtual forum to celebrate the World Food Day (WFD), which marked FAO’s 75th anniversary. Building on this year’s WFD central theme Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together, the forum emphasized the unprecedented importance of the joint multi-partner action in transforming food systems for enhanced food security, nutrition and poverty reduction in Albania, including in the context of the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 implications.
Recognizing the key role the Albanian smallholders and family farmers play in local food production and supply, which during the country-wide lockdown has become vital, the participants emphasized the growing need for enhanced multi-stakeholder cooperation and discussed concrete ways the extension services, private sector, academia and NGOs can contribute to strengthening farmers’ resilience to multiple evolving shocks by facilitating and diversifying sustainable agriculture-based livelihood options and coping strategies.
To this end, support to enhancing social protection and promoting more sustainable and efficient agricultural practices, including through the Extension and Advisory Service (EAS) systems, was stressed by Mr Arben Kipi, Assistant FAO Representative in Albania, among the Organization’s key priority areas in the country. Ms Fabiola Arapi, an adviser to the Minister of Agriculture and Mr Pjerin Shoshi, Director of Extension Service at MARD, informed the forum on the steps the Government is undertaking to enhance the existing national extension services to better support farmers in the COVID-19 situation.
Digital and e-commerce solutions, including Market Information System (MIS), received specific attention in view of the opportunities they offer to enhance connectivity between the actors along the value chain, improve farmers’ access to markets and consumers, and address the increasing demand, among all involved stakeholders, for timely and reliable data to inform decision-making. The participants shared their experiences from the past months in applying analytical tools and innovative data-driven approaches to support data generation and analysis, situation monitoring, information sharing and advice to farmers and agribusiness operators to cope with the negative effects of the pandemic.
The dialogue allowed to revisit challenges the food and agriculture sector in Albania is facing today and take stock of the available and emerging opportunities, including for promoting and scaling up Extension and Advisory Services and agricultural innovation. It also reiterated that to unlock these opportunities, enhancing multi-stakeholder coordination and partnership at all levels is key.