For Immediate Release
Yesterday, the municipality of Štrpce/Shtërpcë held a donor’s conference to draw attention to a unique opportunity for expanding agricultural production in the region to include more “soft fruits” like raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. USAID has supported soft fruit farmers in the Štrpce/Shtërpcë region through its New Opportunities for Agriculture (NOA) program and has seen great success there to date.
USAID provided eight farmers with grants for new planting materials and trellising systems, in addition to providing technical support and advanced training, allowing them to expand their businesses from primarily bulk production for freezing to include the sale of fresh produce. With USAID support, local grantee Muhamet Duka achieved the internationally-recognized GlobalG.A.P. Certification, for his 2013 raspberry crop.
USAID/Kosovo Mission Director Maureen A. Shauket and Caritas Switzerland Head of Mission Kreshnik R. Basha joined Štrpce/Shtërpcë Mayor Bratislav Nikolić in making opening remarks at the conference before the municipality presented its three-year agricultural development strategy.
“I applaud Mayor Nikolić for tracking the progress of these farmers and bringing us together today to make a plan for the future of this prosperous industry,” USAID’s Mission Director told the gathering of government officials, donors, and other agricultural sector stakeholders. The conference aimed to connect more of Štrpce/Shtërpcë’s small-scale growers like Duka with interested investors in order to achieve mutual goals to benefit the farmers and the economy of the region as a whole through increased employment opportunities and production.
Following the conference, USAID’s Mission Director visited a group of the region’s women farmers who are working to form a cooperative with the support of Women for Women International (WfWI). Through NOA, USAID will give select women farmers in the region 1,000 raspberry canes as a show of support for the fledgling cooperative and to help boost production.
USAID’s New Opportunities for Agriculture (NOA) is a four-year program that uses a market-driven approach to build sustainable, high value-added, agricultural exports to help create jobs and increase Kosovo’s exports. For 15 years, USAID has partnered with the people of Kosovo to promote positive change.
Last updated: September 15, 2014