New Opportunities in Agriculture (NOA), a five-year, $2 million program funded by USAID under the RAISE PLUS IQC, boosted agricultural production by capitalizing on the strengths of traditional crops, introducing new high-value crops into 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. From 2011 to 2015, NOA put tools in the hands of Kosovar farmers, supporting them in all aspects of production, marketing and entrepreneurial growth by providing vital training and opening 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 JOhn Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program and extensive network of agribusiness consultants.
From 2011 to 2015, NOA promoted value addition in targeted sectors, introduced new crops, including asparagus and saffron, and developed various crop-based producer groups to provide stronger linkages between producers and buyers throughout the region. It also expanded access to credit training and technical assistance for loan borrowers and officers and provided mentoring, training, workshops and technical assistance for private-sector agribusinesses, building the capacity of Kosovo’s private sector agribusinesses.
- Increased Affordable and Accessible Credit: NOA enables producers and other value chain actors 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 issues for value chain operators and helped procure a variety of new agricultural equipment, allowing firms to increase productivity and reach new markets.
- Linked 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 from 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 and a total of 310 delivery contracts were issued for targeted crops.
- Diversified and Increased Agricultural Products: NOA also expanded production by training farmers on the use of new technologies and value0adding 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 were introduced through the program and 1,200 farmers and processors adopted these new technologies and management practices. CNFA designed a toolbox of interventions to encourage table grape farmers to use growing techniques specific to table grapes, which included instruction on best cultural practices, improved canopy management and integrated the modified “T” trellising. This allowed for an extended growing season across all targeted crops, enabling farmers to produce earlier and earn higher prices.
- Improved 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 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.