The pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is widely considered native to Iran and its surrounding areas, including some parts of the Mediterranean area. Others suggest that its origin comes from the area lying from Iran to Himalaya in northern India. However pomegranate, has been cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region since ancient times. Studies have proven the existence of the wild pomegranate in many countries, including Albania, whose climatic and soil characteristics are quite favourable for the cultivation of pomegranate, a blessed fruit with endless nutrition and therapeutical properties
Mountain Areas Development Agency - AlbaniaLead applicant
The Mountain Areas Development Programme (MADP), an IFAD–initiated programme co-financed with the Government of Albania, Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), Italian Cooperation and the Department for International Development (DfID) of the United Kingdom, was designed against the backdrop of the financial emergency and resulting economic, political and humanitarian crises caused by the collapse of informal lending schemes that took place in Albania in the mid-‘90s. The programme, which became effective in 2001, and aimed at addressing the serious challenges facing poor people living in the mountain areas, such as low productivity, small farm sizes, limited access to financial services and weak market linkages. The overall objective of the programme is to raise the standards of living in the target populations through greater agricultural production and productivity, better household food security, increased incomes from agricultural and related rural enterprises, and improved infrastructure. The project was structured around a multifaceted strategy that included support to financial services, agricultural and agri-business development, and institutional strengthening.
Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration - AlbaniaInitiative partner
It is a governmental entity which has on is focus: Agriculture and livestock; rural development, water administration, advisory servise for farmers, fisheries, irrigation and drainage, food safety...
Agricultural University of Tirana, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment - AlbaniaInitiative partner
Faculty of Agriculture and Environment aims at becoming a modern contemporary center for undergraduate and graduate studies, scientific research and training and preparing specialist in the field of agriculture and food. It aims at becoming a referring point for the rural and agriculture development by directly contributing to the European integration of the country. The mission of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment is to realize professional training of specialist in the field of agriculture and environment, promote respective departments and academic staff in facing time challenges such as: forecasting of food resources, sustainable development of agriculture, protection and regeneration of resources, traditional use of productive resources, provision of ecologically clean products, food safety etc., through active participation of students and academic staff in more advanced education, research and training programmes.
Albania is part of those countries where the wild ancestor of the cultivated pomegranate is satisfactory identified. Wild forms of P. granatum grow massively in the southern part of Montenegro bordering Albania as well as in many parts of the Albanian territory. In the local language the fruit is called “shege” and it is the symbol of health and beauty, so true is this as there are many women in Albania named Shege. Pomegranate is deeply rooted in the Albanian culture since the wild pomegranate has been domesticated during the Bronze Age, from third to second millennium B.C. Its fruits are used to cure several diseases from lowering cholesterol to stopping diarrhea. Given these favourable conditions and long tradition in the cultivation of pomegranate this initiative is trying to better valorise the economic benefits of this fruit, especially for the export to contribute to the economic development of remote areas in Albania.
From a great massif covered with wild pomegranates on the slopes around Shkodra and Lezha in the north of Albania to its organic cultivation in many parts of the coastal lowland area down south to Saranda bordering Greece, pomegranate growing has enormous potential in the country. Due to very favourable climatic conditions in Albania the pomegranate grows spontaneously and it has produced a huge genetic variability. Wild pomegranate seeds are germinated easily and using this advantage, one can increase the surface area cultivated with the best varieties in terms of pomological qualities and other aspects. Moreover, the plant is very resistant to insects and disease infections and grows well in almost all soil types. It doesn’t require neither irrigation nor pruning. There is not so much innovation required, on the other side, much care should be devoted towards the preservation of the best fruit characteristics and creation of new varieties with improved qualities.
With its geographic position and landscape, Albania is a place of climatic variability offering great opportunities for cultivation or spontaneous growth of many plants, including pomegranate. Almost every region in the country has its own sort of cultivated pomegranates. Apart from the cultivated type, the wild pomegranate is grown as well, and it has found here its natural habitat. Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a plant grown for its fresh fruits, processed by the juice industry and beverages, used widely by the pharmaceutical industry and finally it is used as ornamental plant well adopted especially in dry areas, steep lands, shallow and stony soils without irrigation. The Albanian seaside is characterised by the subtropical climate well suited for the cultivation of the fruit. Nevertheless, there are several wild varieties adapted also to much colder areas.
The project is in its initial phase and no results are presently reported. However there are good expectations that it will be successful due to good soil and climatic conditions and long tradition in its cultivation. Recent research in Italy and Israel has shown that pomegranate fruits have fantastic digestive properties as well as medicinal ones therefore they are in high demand in the international market and Albania could play an important role on it
The main beneficiaries are mostly the inhabitants of the remote regions living in areas suffering migration and abandonment. Second are the consumers that would benefit from organically grown fruits full of vitamins and nutrition values. Third is the processing industry that in turn could offer additional jobs for the local people. Certainly the transport sector would benefit as will do the agri-tourism sector.
Mostly rural people living in less favorable areas supported by the extension service of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Lack of established farms as much of the pomegranates grown in Albania are sporadically cultivated
Lack of collection, storage and processing capacities;
Very informal access to production capacity;
Lack of local and foreign traders informed on pomegranate production in Albania;
Lack of funding to invest in processing technology;
The environmental impacts of pomegranate cultivation are enormous:
Soil protection from erosion. Pomegranate grows very well on the steep lands and stony soils;
Requires less maintenance costs compared with other trees
Easily cultivated and very well adapted to the different climatic conditions
Carbon sequestration and increased organic matter in the soil
Technology transfer activities are carried out mainly by the disclosure of information to farmers and also through the extension service offered by the experts of the Ministry of Agriculture.
This project is disseminated with very good results to the local pomegranate growers inside and outside the Shkodra district.