Members of the Rural Development Programming Steering Group of Kosovo get one week training in Austria


Six members of the Rural Development Programming Steering Group of Kosovo (PSG) visited Austria last week to study the actual Austrian Rural Development Programming and Implementation on site.

Day one, at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Lebensministerium) was dedicated to the general Rural Development programming in Austria. Several presentations about the Austrian strategic goals and visions, the process of programming, budgeting and financing as well as the social dialogue process were held by the experts of the Ministry. The Kosovo participants got an insight view and used the possibility to discuss complex matters directly with the Ministry's experts.

Day two focused on the practical aspects of Rural Development administration in the Paying Agency Agrarmarkt Austria (AMA). The different measures of the axis 1 – 4 were presented by the AMA experts. Kosovo experts learned that the Rural Development measures play a significant role in the farmers' financial support in Austria. In particular the Austrian Environmental Programme is with about 550m EUR per year not only safeguarding environmentally friendly and sustainable agriculture in Austria but also a main contributor to the farmers' income.

Day three and four were spent to visit best practice projects in the province of Lower Austria. The experts visited local farm/business activities such as tee/herbs/oil/fibre production for the pharmaceutical/building/clothing/ industry as well as for sale to customers either directly or via shops. Another point of activity was the practical implementation of LEADER activities in Austria were the visitors got acquainted with many on and off farm activities such as holiday on farm respectively the production and sale of typical farm made products like cheese, marmalade, bread, etc. Some of the farmers run a shop to sell their own products directly to the customers.

On day five, AMA Marketing GmbH, a subsidiary company of the Paying Agency AMA, presented its agricultural marketing and promotion activities. One of the highlights was the presentation of the "AMA quality seal", which is a guarantee seal for quality and origin in Austria. With this seal, which meanwhile has a 98% level of recognition, it was possible to significantly improve the foreign trade balance of Austrian agricultural products. Another point of interest on the last day was the presentation of the Austrian school milk and school fruit and vegetable programme. This programme aims to address school children motivating them to consume more healthy food.

In conclusion it can be said that this one week training programme showed a suitable overview not only about the social and political importance of the Austrian Rural Development policy, but also served as a "creativity centre" as many activities might function as a role model and might be incorporated into the new Agricultural and Rural Development Plan of Kosovo 2014-2020.

The members of the Programming Steering
Group visiting Sonnentor, an organic herbal
tee producer with processing and marketing
of farmers' products