As the FAO’s project "Development Assistance to Farmers in Remote Areas of Montenegro" enters its final phase, its success has been noticed throughout South-Eastern Europe. A multinational delegation visited Montenegro to explore the possibility of replicating the concept in their respective countries. A five-day workshop and study trip was organised by the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia and the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Montenegro for agricultural officials from Armenia, Georgia and the Ukraine, was designed to help them learn about the FAO project in Montenegro, exchange experiences and explore the possibility of implementing a similar model in their countries.
“We wanted to transfer the knowledge and positive experience from the FAO project in Montenegro which helped not only to educate and develop networks between farmers in the North, but lead to the sustainability of a number of farms,” said Sašo Martinov, FAO Deputy Project Manager.
The extensive study-trip included field visits to farmers’ associations and different production units in six municipalities in the North.
The delegation also met with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as with a team of professors from the University of Montenegro.
Professor Levan Tortladze from the Faculty of Agriculture in Georgia stressed that the results of the FAO’s project in Montenegro are quite impressive. “We would very much like to cooperate with the FAO in order to implement a similar project in our country. In fact, we will push for an identical concept that would include Georgia, Ukraine and Armenia. Not a single thing should be changed in the project’s approach,” said Professor Tortladze, adding that constructive meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture representatives identified concrete areas of possible cooperation. “Georgia grows more than 500 sorts of grapes, thus we think wine production could be a potential area of cooperation,” said Tortladze, who is also the head of the project, “The Caucasus Genetics.
Learning about the FAO project, which helped establish 17 farmers’ associations in the North, unveiled possible new horizons for the members of the delegation.
“Agricultural cooperation is underdeveloped in the Ukraine. The country also faces challenges in defining policies on subsidies and lacks the financial resources for this type of project,” said Olena Olegivna Aljšanova from the Ukrainian Ministry of Agricultural Policy.
“Given all that facts, the support from the FAO would be more than welcome. The project in Montenegro is an excellent example of how the things can gradually be improved,” said Aljšanova, adding that one third of the Ukrainian territory in the Carpathian region is similar to the northern region of Montenegro.
A similar project is being implemented by the World Bank in Armenia in cooperation with national partners, according to Avetisyan Arsen from the Ministry of Agriculture of Armenia. “Additional international experts and financial support through a potential FAO project would ensure continued improvements in agricultural production,” indicated Arsen.
"Development Assistance to Farmers in Remote Areas of Montenegro" was implemented by the UN Agency for Food and Agriculture (FAO) in 2006 with cooperation from the Montenegrin Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Development. The project, worth 6.6 million USD and funded by the Government of Luxembourg, was developed to help improve the lives of people from the remote regions in the northern part of Montenegro and Kosovo. Initially, the project included municipalities of Andrijevica, Berane, Bijelo Polje, Plav i Rožaje. As of 2009 it has been expanded to four additional municipalities - Pljevlja, Zabljak, Mojkovac i Kolašin.
After seven years of implementation, the project resulted in a number of benefits including increased capacities and self-confidence of farmers, along with 2 to 3 times increased income of the households which participated.
Besides benefiting of networking and adopting advanced models of work, farmers’ associations were granted with agricultural machinery worth 280.000 USD earlier this year. The FAO "Development assistance to farmers in remote areas of Montenegro" is expected to be officially closed in July 2013.