Via the Development Credit Authority (DCA), USAID is increasing access to credit for agriculture and agribusinesses in Albania. Through a $15 million agriculture loan agreement between USAID and two local banks, ProCredit and Banka Kombetare Tregtare (BKT), Albanian farmers and small and medium agricultural enterprises (SMEs) will be able to access credit more easily.
U.S. Ambassador Alexander Arvizu delivered remarks today at the signing ceremony in the U.S. Embassy Rose Garden. Signatories to the agreement included USAID/Albania’s new Mission Director, Jim Barnhart, Chief Executive Officer of BKT, Mr. Seyhan Pencapligil, and the Spokesperson of Management Board with ProCredit Albania, Ms. Flutura Veipi.
Access to finance is one of the main concerns for companies. In fact, only approximately 2% of private loans go to the agriculture sector. Through the DCA program, loans will be issued to agricultural enterprises in areas such as dairy, livestock, and fresh and processed fruits and vegetables – including olives and herbs and spices – to support investments in new technologies, packaging and marketing.
USAID has been active in supporting Albanian agriculture since it began work in Albania in 1992. Early work focused on food security and basic agricultural techniques. Recent work focuses on making Albanian farmers and agribusinesses more competitive in domestic and export markets through advanced techniques, quality control, marketing and packaging. Much progress has been made over the past twenty years, but Albania still has a 9:1 import to export ratio for agriculture. Approximately 50% of the workforce is active in agriculture, and agriculture provides an important employment buffer and social safety net during times of economic stress.
This agreement was modeled after a similar program initiated by USAID/Kosovo in 2007, which greatly expanded lending to Kosovo agriculture borrowers.
Both BKT and ProCredit will promote their new loan products to potential agriculture borrowers during the Annual Albanian Agriculture Fair in Tirana September 20-23.
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