New Opportunities in Agriculture (NOA), a five-year program funded by USAID under the RAISE PLUS IQC, boosted production by capitalizing on the strengths of traditional crops, introducing new high-value crops into the market; involving women, youth, and minorities in the production process; and advancing and expanding value chains to draw in infrastructure investment and strengthen export capacity. NOA put tools in the hands of Kosovar farmers, enabling them in all aspects of production, marketing, and entrepreneurial growth by providing vital training and opening up market linkages to encourage and facilitate trade. Working under contract with Tetra Tech, CNFA provided short-term technical expertise in value chain development through its USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program and extensive network of agribusiness consultants.
- Developed various crop-based producer groups to provide stronger linkages between producers and buyers throughout the region;
- Expanded access to credit training and technical assistance for loan borrowers and officers;
- Built the capacity of Kosovo’s private sector agribusinesses;
- Conducted mentoring, training, workshops, and technical assistance for private sector agribusinesses;
- Promoted value addition in targeted sectors and introduced new crops including asparagus and saffron.
- Increasing Affordable and Accessible Credit:NOA enabled producers and other actors in value chains to access capital or credit through a variety of mechanisms, such as loans and grants. A total of 142 small or medium enterprises received access to credit, and grants issued for value chain operators helped procure a variety of new agricultural equipment, allowing firms to increase productivity and reach new markets;
- Linking Farmers to Markets:NOA exposed Kosovar farmers and processors to new markets by organizing study tours and promotional events as well as facilitating relationships between producers and buyers. These activities exposed producers to new technologies for crop production, new varieties to enhance yields and quality, and new, higher priced crops. In addition, these activities increased awareness amongst potential buyers of new opportunities arising in value chains, such as improved quality and increased availability of raw materials produced domestically. The program saw over $3.3 million in sales as a direct result of linkages created between farmers, processors, and traders. A total of 310 delivery contracts were issued for targeted crops.
- Diversifying and Increasing Agricultural Products:NOA also expanded production by training farmers on the use of new technologies and value-adding processing, including a new processing line for bagged lettuce — the first of its kind in Kosovo. A total of 25 new technologies and management practices have been introduced through the program, and 1,200 farmers and processors have adopted these new technologies and management practices. CNFA designed a tool box of interventions to encourage table grape farmers to use growing techniques specific to table grapes, which included instruction on best cultural practice, improved canopy management, and integrated the modified “T” trellising. This allowed for extended growing seasons across all targeted crops, enabling farmers to produce earlier and earn higher prices.
- Improving Food Quality and Safety:NOA worked to improve food quality and safety to ensure Kosovar producers and processors abided by existing food safety regulations issued by government authorities. By working with firms to become certified and meet international standards, NOA built consumer confidence in local products in areas of including water sanitation, the establishment of a Listeria exclusion and testing program, pre-harvest inspection procedures, hygiene-enhancing supplies and equipment, and the development of a recall plan. Food quality and safety measures implemented through NOA helped to improve product formulations, enrich human resources, and further the development of Kosovo’s food industry.