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Aktualitet

They 'covered' the road with milk as a sign of protest, REL analysis: Farmers in Albania are protesting, asking for more support

They 'covered' the road with milk as a sign of protest, REL analysis:

Elton Ndoni, livestock farmer in the village of Grabian in Divjaka, whitened the road with milk at the Savra roundabout in Lushnje, Albania. Since April 1, he and other cattle farmers in this area have not delivered milk to the processing factories, due to, they say, the low price that the processors pay. From the beginning of March, collectors and factories lowered the prices, with which they get milk or fruits and vegetables from producers. Ndoni says that the factories ask for milk at 5 lek less per liter, and this, according to him, harms the farmer.

"I put ten thousand liters of milk in the autobot and poured it on the street, as a sign of protest, because of the low price at which they ask us for it. I made it so that everyone could see it, both the factories and the authorities, because this is the farmer's blood",  says Ndoni for Radio Free Europe.

For 20 years, he has had a farm with a thousand cows, but he says that it has become too difficult to continue this work.

"The malice of the milk industry has caused this situation. The price is determined in the offices of the workshops. Milk comes from Hungary and they have taken us to the bottom", says Ndoni.

"I don't even blame the traders for finding it cheaper... because there [in the countries of the European Union] livestock farmers are subsidized per liter of milk, per head of cattle, etc., while here for years I was subsidized for 50 head of cattle out of a thousand lek [10 euros] for one, while for the rest at all. This year, something has changed, because for the rest, apart from 50 heads, there is a subsidy of 50%",  says the rancher.

Ndoni was also part of the protest that was held a few days ago by dozens of livestock farmers, who traveled with their tractors from Kavaja, Vlora, Berati, Fieri, Lushnja, etc., and gathered at the Savra roundabout on the Lushnje-Fier highway . The protesters said they are forced to sell the milk at a very cheap price, as the dairy processing factories have fixed the price at 50 Lek [less than 50 cents] per liter. Some factory representatives declined to comment.

During these days, Ndoni and other farmers held meetings with representatives of the factories and the state and gave each other time to find solutions. On the day of the protest, the Minister of Agriculture of Albania, Anila Denaj, reacted on social networks by writing that "formalization through contracts in the relationship between livestock - collection point, is the only way to guarantee a safe market and balanced prices".

Blegtorët thonë se presin deri në 60 ditë që të paguhen për qumështin që shesin, derisa fabrikat t’i shesin produktet e tyre, por këtë e shohin si të padrejtë, sepse, siç thonë, për qumështin që importojnë nga jashtë, ato janë të detyruara të paguajnë direkt. Probleme nuk kanë vetëm blegtorët, por edhe fermerët që kultivojnë fruta apo perime. Daniel Cangonji, nga Fshati Cangonj në Devoll, thotë se është penduar që është kthyer nga Greqia për të investuar në vendin e tij.

“Kam ardhur nga Greqia në vitin 2013 dhe jam penduar. Në dy vjetët e parë shkoi mirë, pastaj nuk e nxora dot mundin dhe paratë që hedh për të kultivuar mollë. Vetëm një nga pesticidet që përdor në Shqipëri e marr me 12 euro; në Greqi e gjej me 5”, thotë Cangonji për Radion Evropa e Lirë.

Ashtu si blegtorët, problemin e ka me grumbulluesit. Mollët tani janë në fazën e lulëzimit, por, deri tani, është dashur shumë mund për t’i spërkatur me pesticide, për t’i krasitur apo për të frezuar tokën dhe për ta ujitur, ndërsa grumbulluesit ua marrin me një çmim që Cangonji e cilëson qesharak.

“Unë e jap me 30 lekë dhe grumbulluesi e shet me 70. Në Tiranë shkon te 130 apo 150 kilogrami i mollës. Punëtori më ka vajtur në 250 lekë dita. Duhet t’i bie Devollit rreth e rrotull për të gjetur punëtorë, se nuk ka, të rinjtë kanë ikur”, thotë Cangonji.

Duke sjellë shembullin e Greqisë ku punoi për disa vite, ai thotë se shteti përcakton edhe sipërfaqen e tokës që duhet mbjellë me një kulturë bujqësore apo një tjetër dhe, gjithashtu, garanton shitjen dhe malli nuk rrezikon të mbetet stok. Eksperti i bujqësisë, Agim Rrapaj, njëkohësisht udhëheqës i Këshillit të Agrobiznesit në Shqipëri, thotë se autoritetet duhet t’u japin rrugëzgjidhje kultivuesve.

“Do të duhej të kishte subvencionim për litër qumështi, jo për krerë bagëtish. Ka informalitet të lartë për të përballuar këtë krizë në këtë sektor, informalitet dhe konkurrencë të pandershme”, thotë Rrapaj.

“Gjithashtu, kemi nivelin më të ulët të subvencionit në rajon dhe kjo bën që importuesit e produkteve të qumështit ta gjejnë më lirë në tregjet jashtë vendit”, shton ai, por nuk specifikon më shumë.

Rrapaj thotë se edhe buxheti i përcaktuar për Ministrinë e Bujqësisë është i ulët, ndërkohë që sektori është jetik për ekonominë e vendit.

“Një studim që e kemi bërë, rezulton se Ministrisë së Bujqësisë i duhen shtuar edhe 90 milionë euro për të mbështetur sektorin privat”, thotë Rrapaj për Radion Evropa e Lirë.

Funds for the Ministry of Agriculture this year are 14.1 billion ALL [about 140 million euros] from 15.6 billion ALL last year. In the 2025-2027 priority policy document, the Government of Albania states that agriculture contributes to 18.36% of the gross domestic product and employs 33.6% of the country's workforce. According to the government, agriculture is facing a shortage of qualified workers. For the next three years, the plans for this sector are not for a significant increase in funds, even though during the budget discussions it was stated that for the recovery of this sector the funds should be tripled. The Institute of Statistics of Albania reported that the sector that employs more than a third of Albanians, in the last quarter of last year shrank by 3.07%, compared to the same period of 2022.

In July last year, the European Union decided to suspend the IPARD agricultural funds to Albania, due to suspicions of mismanagement, while the results of the investigations by the European Anti-Fraud Office were then submitted to the Brussels authorities. Next year, the European Union will unlock these funds, giving farmers the opportunity to get support to develop their activity. In recent months there have been farmers' protests in other parts of Europe, such as France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Italy and Greece, due to, as mentioned, rising costs and taxes, bureaucracy, regulations environmental surpluses and competition from cheap food imports./ REL