Agriculture has been identified as one of the priority areas with innovative potential during the mapping phase within the framework of the Smart Specialization Strategy (S3). The development of S3 is part of Albania's obligations in the context of the EU accession negotiations process, specifically under Chapter 20 "Enterprises and Industrial Policies" and Chapter 25 "Science and Research." Additionally, it is part of the Western Balkans Action Plan 2021-2024 within the Berlin Process and a component of the EU's agenda for innovation in the Western Balkans for 2021-2027.
In this context, the National S3 Team, under the special care of Deputy Prime Minister Ms. Belinda Balluku, with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Union of Albanian Producers, organized a national workshop for the agriculture sector on June 2, 2023, following the methodology of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC).
Approximately 60 representatives from all four sectors (government, academia, business, civil society) participated in this event, sharing their experiences in the field of agriculture and their perspectives on intelligent development in this sector.
Ms. Linda Pustina, Chair of the National S3 Team and Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister, opened the meeting by emphasizing the importance that the Albanian Government attaches to this process. The meeting was welcomed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ms. Frida Krifca, who highlighted the importance of intelligent development in the agriculture sector and presented the initiatives and support that the government has provided to prioritize this vital sector. Mr. Arben Shkodra, Secretary-General of the Union of Albanian Producers and a member of the National S3 Team, explained the importance and role of the consultative process of EDP within the S3 framework, which is bringing together all actors from the four sectors in such a comprehensive consultation from the beginning of formulating a strategy to gather thoughts and suggestions for its drafting. Moreover, the role of the Entrepreneurship Identification System in Albania for every phase of the development of the S3 Strategy was presented. Ms. Florensa Haxhi, an expert from the National S3 Team, served as the workshop moderator, explaining the methodology of work to the participants.
Participants were divided into several tables, each with representatives from all four sectors. In the first part of the workshop, each table conducted a SWOT analysis of the sector, identifying the strengths and advantages of agriculture in Albania, weaknesses and obstacles to economic growth based on innovation, opportunities and areas where the sector can expand its activities based on its strengths, as well as threats and global competition. The focus of the table discussions was the progress of innovative potential, technological development, and digitalization in the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries sectors in the Republic of Albania, aiming to improve sector performance in the coming years.
Later on, the tables expressed their vision for the sector, objectives, goals, and necessary resources to achieve the vision, as well as expected results in the long term. Each working group also identified the policies needed to implement the suggestions and objectives set. In the second part of the workshop, each facilitator presented the findings of their table.
This workshop followed the continuation of several roundtable discussions previously held as part of the EDP meetings. The conclusions from this workshop will be analyzed, assessed, and incorporated into the final EDP report, which will serve as the basis for the formulation of the S3 strategy.