Inside FLED

  • Janaq Male

    Sustainability is more income and services for local communities - Mr. Janaq Male. Photo: Amanda Herrström

  • Sustainability is #...

    Sustainability is cooperation and continuation - Mrs. Valentina Vurmo. Photo: Emilia Broniarczyk

  • Sustainability is #...

    Sustainability is investments, service & growing surfaces - Mr.Jaupllari. Photo: Amanda Herrström

  • Sustainability is #...

    Sustainability is support from the government, advice from CNVP & investments - Mr.Lame. Photo: Amanda Herrström

These are interviews with beneficiaries of the Forests for Local Economic Development (FLED) project, an environmental project supported by Sweden. The interviews were made during a field visit to the Korça region in order to see how the support from the Swedish partner organisation Connecting Network Values and People (CNVP) has affected people taking part in the project. See the videos below the text.

Interview with Janaq Male, Country Director of CNVP in Albania

What are the main objectives with the FLED project?
The Forest for Local Economic Development (FLED) is a project implemented by CNVP between 2014 and 2018. The main objective of the project is to strengthen the Albanian forestry sector. There are five main result areas:

1. Strengthening local governments’ capacity as new owners of resources following the territorial reform in Albania. This involves the registration of owners, spreading information about the legal process and participatory user mapping.

2. Improving the structures of the forest federations and FPUAs, including capacity building of the forest federations and lobbying in order to improve legislation.

3. Involving producer groups. The producer groups mainly focus on the collecting of medicinal plants. The project aims to arrange networking events between producer groups as well as promote sustainable harvesting as a way to improve the level of income of the rural population. One example of a sustainable producer group is a group in Korça that successfully works with sustainable cultivation of mountain tea, mushrooms and honey.  

4. Promoting different ways of producing income.

5. Strengthening the legal framework with regards to user rights, income generation, use of biomass, etc. This component involves exchanges of experiences with countries in the region that are also in the process of implementing the standards in order to accede to the European Union.

The FLED project is assessed as well-implemented in relation to the set indicators.

What is the most central area to focus on now, for the remainder of the project?
The decentralisation process has affected many different sectors, including the forestry sector. The transferring of responsibility to local units requires employees to learn how to work in a sustainable way. There are also several other challenges, including the limitations of the FPUA’s economy, the process of making producer groups legal entities, promoting a green economy and climate change.

The cooperation with Sweden has built on these aspects. The cooperation has been very good and many lessons have been learnt.

How have you strengthened gender inclusion?
Gender inclusion is one of the key components of the FLED project and has thus far been very successful. The gender inclusion component consists of two parts. Firstly, the CNVP works in order to strengthen gender inclusion in the FPUAs by promoting female participation in general and in decision-making processes. Currently, 2-3 out of 10 board members are women. The CNVP also supports gender inclusion in the producer groups. 60% of the farmers in the producer groups tend to be women. The women usually work with collection of crops, nuts and fruits. The inclusion of women in producer groups has led to economic empowerment as well as a strengthened sense of self-worth. By meeting other female farmers during networking meetings, women receive encouragement from each other and exchange experiences of being part of the producer groups.  

The CNVP has a specific work plan for gender inclusion. The promotion of gender inclusion can be challenging in less developed communities where the mentality of the inhabitants is less progressive. The CNVP promotes gender inclusion by having 50% men and 50% women as advisors at their local offices in rural areas.

What is sustainability to you?
Sustainability is more income and services for local communities.


Interview with Valentina Vurmo, a woman in a producer group

How many women are there in this producer group? When was the producer group formed?
The producer group started in 2012 with trainings and meetings. The purpose of the group is to learn about economic development and how to manage natural resources in a sustainable way. The producer group was legally registered in Tirana in 2014.

There are currently three producer groups taking part in the FLED project: the fishermen group, the group collecting medical plants and another group working with the production of honey. In the fishermen group, there are seven workers, out of which two are women. However, 50 % of the work is still done by women. In the medical plant group, there are 20 women and their main task involves collecting medical plants.

How have you been influenced by this project? Can you see or feel any improvements in the daily life through the project? In what way?
The project has supported the producer group in terms of arranging meetings with buyers and sellers. In this way they are able to reach the market. Before CNVP and the FLED project, the plants were mostly sold to a lower price. Thanks to FLED, the producer group is able to sell their products to a higher price. By having a set of shared values, the producer group is able to increase their earnings, especially those made by the female farmers.

Have you come across any difficulties during the course of the project? How did you overcome these difficulties?
In the beginning of the project, there was a disagreement between the producer group and the buyers on the selling price of products. In order to overcome this dispute, CNVP offered to arrange meetings with the buyers and sellers.

Another problem is the storage of the medical plants. It is difficult to ensure the quality of the plants. Therefore, there is an immediate need to improve the construction of the storage areas and the packaging of the medical plants.  Additionally, dryers are needed to preserve the plants.

How do the men react to women’s participation in the producer group or in the User Association?
Women are seen as a positive influence. There is good cooperation between men and women in the producer groups and in other fields of the project.

What is sustainability to you?
Sustainability is cooperation and continuation.


Interview with farmer Anesti Jaupllari who grows poplar

Why did you decide to start growing poplar and how long ago did you start?
I decided to grow poplar based on the advice and expertise from CNVP. I started planting three years ago in order to deliver biomass for the pellet factory.

How have you as a farmer been influenced by this project? Can you see or feel any improvements in the daily life through the project? In what way?
CNVP has been very supportive during the cooperation. CNVP gave the advice to cultivate poplars, which was a very strategic piece of advice given the lack of timber in the region.

Can you see any improvements in the production/cultivation process? In what way?
The good soil and water resources have enabled the successful cultivation of poplars. It takes 15 years for the poplars to become fully grown.

Have you come across any difficulties during the course of the project? How did you overcome these difficulties?
The government has not offered any kind of support or advice. There are still substantial weaknesses in terms of security. There is risk of fire and difficulties when it comes to protecting the poplars from animals.

What is sustainability to you?
Sustainability is investment, services and growing surfaces.


Interview with Festim Lame, owner of a pellet factory

Tell us a bit about your company; when did you start, what activities/production do you have, where do you sell your products (within Albania, export), how many employees do you have etc.?
The pellet factory is three years old and has 40 fulltime employees. Some of the employees have 30 years of experience in the business. The factory is currently exporting to Italy and Greece. The factory produces pellets from poplars and from branches found on the ground.

How do you cooperate with CNVP within FLED? Have you come across any difficulties during the course of the project? How did you overcome these difficulties?
CNVP has been supportive by giving advice and connecting farmers with the company. The difficulty is that the factory does not have any experts in the area as CNVP does. But the project has brought good cooperation and with the support from CNVP they have started to discuss how to overcome the moratorium on logging of all forests in Albania.

How do you see the future for renewables like pellets and briquettes in Albania and how many farmers could potentially become involved in the Korça region?
In five years pellets and briquettes will become the main fuel used for heating in the region. In Korça, people use firewood during winter for heating. There is a need to explore other alternatives, particularly due to the current moratorium law. The factory wants to provide 600 small pellet stoves for schools in the municipality and cooperate with the municipality in the region.

How many women are there in this business and how have they been influenced by this project? How do the men react to women’s participation in the business?
There are 25 women employed. There is no negative reaction toward women’s participation. The women and men work together in the fields, planting seed and harvesting for the factory. Some of the areas are more suitable for women that tend to handle things with more care.

What is sustainability to you?
Sustaniability is the advice from the CNVP and investments.