New Opportunities for Agriculture, Kosovo
The Tetra Tech-led Kosovo New Opportunities for Agriculture (NOA) program increased agricultural production, improved food quality, enhanced access to credit, and linked producers to markets.
Prior to 2011, Kosovo was among the poorest countries in Europe, with an average annual per capita income of less than $2,500. Unemployment was between 45 and 75 percent, and roughly 44 percent of the population lived below the poverty line, with the majority of impoverished citizens residing in rural areas. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was committed to assisting in the creation of a stable, democratic, and economically viable Kosovo. Acknowledging the role the agriculture sector could play in this process, USAID designed the four-year NOA program, which Tetra Tech implemented from 2011 to 2015.
Tetra Tech introduced new agricultural products and improved varieties of products previously grown in Kosovo to respond to market demand locally, regionally, and in European markets. Tetra Tech focused on 10 potential value chains, which included gherkins, lettuce, asparagus, apples, table grapes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, dairy, saffron, and medicinal and aromatic products. NOA employed a market-driven, value-chain approach that introduced new technologies to expand production and improve post-harvest handling, storage, processing, and packaging to satisfy market demand. Tetra Tech promoted best practices through lead farmers and government extension agents, establishment of demonstration plots and nurseries, collection centers, cold storage facilities, and processing facilities that set commercially viable and replicable examples of modern agriculture.
The NOA team worked with targeted firms (collection centers, cold storage facilities, warehouses, and processing facilities) to improve food quality and safety. This involved raising awareness of premium prices that could be attracted through improved quality and adherence to quality standards; training on food safety measures; upgrading equipment and facilities; and linking farms and facilities to certification bodies that provide HACCP, GlobalGAP, and organic certification.
While NOA placed the private sector at the forefront of its interventions, the project also provided direct technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, and other national institutions to optimize Government of Kosovo and donor coordination. This assistance built local capacity to address challenges within the sector and assisted the Government of Kosovo in advancing key aspects of its agricultural development strategy.
NOA was instrumental in establishing a U.S. and Government of Kosovo-supported Development Credit Authority (DCA) loan guarantee fund signed with six commercial banks. The DCA collectively issued more than $9 million in guaranteed agricultural loans. The Tetra Tech project team also worked with a local insurance company to launch the country’s first dairy cow insurance program and supported the development of an agricultural inputs credit card that facilitated farmers’ access to a credit line of more than $1 million.
NOA also strongly emphasized social inclusion, ensuring the participation of women, youth, and other disadvantaged groups in project activities. Tetra Tech provided training and technical services through project staff and local and regional experts, and managed a $2.8-million Innovation and Incentive Fund that provided grants to growers, processors, and supervising entities and supported subcontracts to local service providers that provided necessary technical and business development services.
Through NOA, Tetra Tech provided the following services:
- Agribusiness development
- Agricultural competitiveness enhancement services
- Technical support for post-harvest storage and processing facilities
- Association strengthening training
- Business linkages and support services
- Training and capacity building to improve food quality and safety
- Global Partnerships for Good Agricultural Practices (Global GAP) support (training and certification assistance)
- Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACC) support (training and certification assistance)
- Input market systems development services
- Market organization training and capacity building (information, intelligence, standards, linkages, and support for market prospectus visits)
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Policy analysis training and consulting
- Technical agricultural production advisory services
- Technical services and product development to increase access to agricultural finance
- Sanitary and phytosanitary standards and certification support (training and certification assistance)
- Agricultural value chain development (value chain round table discussions, training, and supply contracts facilitation)