Agricultural Policy Forum 2020: Agriculture and rural development policy in the Western Balkans in times of pandemic

Jubilee 20th Agricultural Policy Forum gathered more than 160 participants from 14 WB countries and EU countries

The Agricultural Policy Forum (APF), hereafter referred to as the “Forum”, is a comprehensive regional platform enabling all stakeholders – from academia and policy makers to farmers and civil society – to get together and address key concerns about the future of agriculture and rural development, and their role in the prosperity of the South Eastern European region. The current and future state of agriculture and rural development in relation to the dynamics of the European Union (EU) integration process is the central topic of the APF.

The 20th Agricultural Policy Forum, “Agriculture and Rural Development Policy in the Western Balkans in times of pandemic, was held as an online webinar from 12 to 16 October 2020. It addressed the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture, food and rural areas in the Western Balkans and stressed the necessity of regional cooperation in times of pandemic. The Forum reviewed recent agricultural policy developments in the context of the EU approximation process and elaborated on the research, innovation and technology transfer capacities in the Western Balkans. Small holders and rural areas were once again in the focus of the APF, emphasizing their importance in times of pandemic through development of short value-chains, diversification of economic activities in rural areas and application of the community-led local development approach.

The APF Agenda 2020 was presented and discussed at the 14th Annual Working Meeting of the Ministries of Agriculture from South Eastern Europe on the 17th of November 2020. The Agricultural Policy Forum 2020 was held under joint auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development of Kosovo* and regional Rural Development Standing Working Group (SWG) in South Eastern Europe.

The participants of the Agricultural Policy Forum 2020 highly appreciated the support provided by the convening institutions and organizations: European Commission (DG Agriculture and Rural development), The Germain International Cooperation (GIZ) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Plenary Session Speakers’ Short Biographies

Working Groups

WORKING GROUP 1: Impact of COVID-19 on agriculture, food and rural areas in the Western Balkans

The Regional Expert Advisory Working Group (REAWG) on Impact of COVID-19 on agriculture, food and rural areas in the Western Balkans works on summarizing national actions and measures taken for coping with the COVID-19 crisis and mitigating their effects, assessing the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on food systems in the WB,  and recommending national and regional strategic approaches and policies, as well as joint actions for overcoming the consequences and providing stimuli to accelerate the recovery and build resilience.

The purpose of the meeting is:

  • To report on progress, achievements and deviations by the Regional Expert Advisory Working Group
  • To present draft national reports, findings and recommendations
  • To provide feedback by participants and revise the workplan if necessary

WORKING GROUP 2: The LEADER Approach in the Western Balkans

The Regional Expert Advisory Working Group on LEADER works on provision of national expertise related to facilitation of horizontal and vertical integration, cooperation, dialogue and exchange of relevant stakeholders involved in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of CLLD/ LEADER in SEE and the provision of policy advice to boost capacities to implement Community Led Local Development (CLLD) and LEADER in Southeast Europe.

The overall aim of the work of the REAWG is to facilitate the process of setting up structures and delivery mechanisms for the LEADER measure during the current IPARD period and particularly in the new period 2021-27 to increase the capacities for rural diversification and re-dynamization of lagging rural areas in the SEE countries.

The purpose of the meeting is:

  • To report on progress and achievements by the Regional Expert Advisory Working Group
  • To present the final draft national road maps
  • To discuss on the future steps and workplan of the REAWG

WORKING GROUP 3 Best practices and potential of participation of the smallholders in the short value-chains in the Western Balkans region and Turkey

The respective REAWG is conducting an in-depth analysis of short supply chains among small farmers in the WB and Turkey and their potential impacts on economic aspects as well as their social sustainability. The aim is to provide policy recommendations on specific measures to promote short supply chains in the WB and Turkey.

The purpose of the meeting is:

  • To elaborate on the findings of the study conducted within the project funded by JRC, implemented by SWG;
  • To discuss the current potential of participation of the smallholders in the short value-chains;
  • To formulate regional recommendations for policies directed towards increasing participation of the smallholders in the short value-chains in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

Outputs

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