Key figures on agriculture sector and vegetables production in Albania


From; Value chain analyses of cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, onion and potato in Albania.
Prepared by; Drini Imami & Edvin Zhllima  (DSA),  July-August 2010. 


Role of vegetables production in agriculture sector

The rural component of Albanian society is still quite important as it still composes more than half of the population and employs 58% of the total employed people in Albania, while agriculture currently contributes to more than 17% to national GDP. In 2008 the urban population had grown to 48.7% while the rural population decreased from 57.3% in 2001 to 51.3% in 2008 ([1]). As a result, agriculture development affects socio-economic conditions of a large number of people, as this sector will be facing challenges and opportunities in the context of EU integration.

Income from agriculture and forestry activities has a predominant role in rural dwellers’ livelihood; however, the official figures show that about 130,000 farm households (or 36% of total) receive income from non-agricultural activities and approximately the same number from emigrants’ remittances.

Before the transition to the market economy there had been 550 large state farms and cooperatives. Land privatization, initiated in 1991, created a structure of private farms characterized by very small units, mostly fragmented in three or more plots. The size of farms is slowly growing (from 1.04 ha in 2000 to 1.19 ha in 2009); the largest average farms are in Fier (1.7 ha) and Berat (1.4 ha), while there are less than 43,000 farms with 2 ha or more.

Most farms (350,000 out of 353,000) produce field crops, of which almost 255,000 farms or more than 2/3 of total number of farms are engaged in vegetable production, of which only 4,955 farmers are involved in protected crops.

Role of vegetables production in agriculture sector.

The production of vegetables is an important source of income and food (for self-consumption) for the Albanian farmers. It is estimated that almost 245,000 farms, i.e. more than 2/3 of the total, are engaged in vegetables production.

Total production of vegetables and potatoes groups in terms of quantity is 570,000 Mt of open field vegetables and 200,000 Mt of potatoes for the year 2009.Vegetables production provides an important contribution in the agriculture sector, representing on average more than 10 percent of the total agriculture output (Table 1), and representing a consolidated share in the agrifood basket exports as detailed in Chapter 5 below.

Table 1: Shares of vegetables and potatoes on agricultural output

(% of total output in value)

 Group of products/year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Vegetables and horticultural products 10.8 12.6 10.7 10.8 10.6 10.6 11.1
Potatoes (including seeds) 2.7 3.1 2.7 2.6 2.6 2.4 2.4

Source: MOAFCP/INSTAT 2009

The role of imports in supplying the market of vegetables.

Vegetables account for 3 percent of both imports and exports of agrifood sector in 2008. The share of vegetables exports has increased in 2008, as compared to the previous years, from 2 to 3 percent of the total agrifood exports, while the share of imports has been characterized by oscillations as shown in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Share of vegetables imports and exports to total agrifood imports and exports during 2005 – 2008

  2005 2006 2007 2008
Share of total agricultural exports
Edible vegetables, plants, roots, tubers 2% 2% 2% 3%
Preparations of vegetables, fruits or nuts 3% 2% 3% 3%
Total agricultural exports products (million Eur) 41.7 47.4 68.3 54.2
Share of total agricultural imports
Edible vegetables, plants, roots, tubers 4% 4% 3% 3%
Preparations of vegetables, fruit or nuts 4% 3% 4% 3%
Total agricultural products imports (million Eur) 369.1 431.0 637.7 590.5

Source: INSTAT

In spite of having appropriate natural conditions for vegetable growing and a relatively abundant and cheap rural workforce, Albania has a structural trade deficit of both fresh and processed vegetables (except melons and watermelons which are not object of this study).

During the last decade, in Albania, the range of imported products has widened, in parallel with the growth of customers’ purchasing power. In 2000, four items (potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers) represented 72% of all imports.

In the following years, foreign supplies of these four products have been gradually competed out by domestic production, while imports of other products, such as leguminous vegetables have substantially increased.

Table 3 provides the share of total vegetables imports and exports for potatoes, tomatoes, leguminous vegetables, cucumbers and peppers, which are the main vegetables produced and consumed in Albania.

Table 3: Dynamics of the share of imports and exports of the main vegetables

  Potatoes Tomatoes Cucumbers Peppers Legum. Onions
Imp   Exp   Imp   Exp   Imp   Exp   Imp   Exp   Imp   Exp   Imp   Exp  
2000 40% 0% 16% 1% 12% 0% 4% 0% 3% 51% 12% 0%
2005 24% 0% 20% 3% 8% 1% 8% 0% 11% 62% 8% 1%
2006 16% 0% 23% 4% 8% 0% 9% 0% 9% 67% 8% 0%
2007 6% 0% 19% 14% 10% 0% 5% 2% 11% 66% 10% 0%
2008 12% 0% 12% 19% 11% 0% 4% 2% 23% 46% 11% 0%
2009 7% 3% 12% 40% 3% 5% 5% 2% 21% 11% 3% 5%

Source: UNSTAT 2010

Seasonal variation of import is very high: imports of vegetables are concentrated in the months when Albanian production is not available. This is mainly due to the preference of Albanian consumers for domestic products.

The yearly trade deficit of vegetables increased up to 2008 and scores well over 21 m USD per year (23 m USD in 2008, UNSTAT). Considering the particular situation of international trade in 2009, it is not possible to say whether the reduction of the deficit marked a change of trend or simply a temporary limitation of flows, due to general economic slowdown.

International trade for the selected vegetables will be analyzed in details in Chapter 5.

Supply and demand of fresh vegetables.

The total area under production with vegetables has gradually decreased since 2000, while the total output of vegetables has increased. The gradual increase of productivity is due to higher productivity in open field crops as a result of advancement in technology, availability of commercially grown seedlings, and wider use of drip irrigation.

At present, there are about 30,000 ha open field vegetables and melons, 10,000 ha with potatoes, 14,000 ha with beans and about 730 ha with protected crops.

Production figures show that production is becoming more intensive: total surface cultivated with open field vegetables is decreasing (-20% between 2000 and 2009), while surface of protected crops is growing and in general yields of vegetables are increasing.

Domestic production of the main vegetables meets the core part of domestic consumption. Production and supply of the selected vegetables will be analyzed in details in Chapter 5.

Supply and demand of processed vegetables.

Official statistics on processing industry are scarce and reflect a situation characterized by a large share of the activity falling under informal or semi-informal economy. Information provided from larger enterprises gives a very limited insight of the real situation.

The main relevant product is processed potatoes, for which there is a growing demand in Albania. The demand is high particularly for frozen potatoes which are widely used by fast foods and restaurants; there is no record of their production in Albania. Also cabbages are subject to processing (pickled) which is common at farm level (self-processing) while it represents an inferior component compared to pickled cucumbers and peppers for the vegetable processing industry from the commercial point of view.


Regional distribution.

Regional specialisation of production. 

The core area for vegetable production in Albania is the coastal and hilly area of central Albania, including the qark (region) of Fier ([2]) and part of the qarks (regions) of Tirana and Berat. In this area it is also concentrated most of the fruits and vegetables processing industry.

Other important production areas include Shkoder (open field vegetables) and Korce (potatoes).

The qark of Fier is the most important production area of the whole country, ranking first in the production of vegetables and second in the output of potatoes (after Korce), with an output scoring 26% of national production of vegetables, and 15% of national production of potatoes. Also, average yields in this qark are higher than the national average.

In the qark of Fier is located the main production area for early vegetables and potatoes (Divjaka), as a whole, and the highest regional share of total open vegetable production. Finally, in this area there is the most important concentration of wholesale facilities, with the wholesale market of Lushnje, which is the largest in the country, the private wholesale centre in Fier and the wholesale collection area ([3]) in Divjaka.

Fier (including Lushnje) is also the qark with the largest average farm size and the largest average parcel: the average farm in Fier has a surface of 1.5 Ha, compared to 1.2 Ha national average in 2009 and the average parcel has a surface of 0.42 ha, compared with a national average of 0.28 ha.

Divjaka has an active surface of 800 ha of vegetables in open field. This surface is planted 2- 3 times per year. Throughout the year Divjaka produces the majority of the open field vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. In addition, there is planted insignificant areas with other vegetables such as beet, beetroot, etc. This area has very suitable microclimate conditions and land structure for the production of open field crops cultivated in this area. The average income from vegetables production in this area is estimated 1-1.3 million ALL/ha, according to AAC experts assessments.

The main crops are provided in Table 4 below.

Table 4: Cultivation are and yields for main                                                                                 vegetables in the cluster of Divjaka

Product Area (ha/year) Yield (ton/ha)
Potato 240 – 260 ha 30 – 35
Cabbage 200 – 250 35 – 60
Cauliflower 150 – 180 20 – 30
Broccoli 30 – 40 12 – 15
Green onion 15 – 20 60 – 70

Source: field interviews and assessments

After Fier, the most important qarks for production of open field vegetables are Tirane, Shkoder, Elbasan and Korce. The production of these five qarks makes up 2/3 of the total domestic production of open field vegetables.

About 2/3 (66%) of potatoes production is concentrated in four qarks, namely Korce, Fier, Diber and Elbasan.

The concentration trends for vegetables in the areas mentioned above have been a function of favoring agroclimateric conditions, production tradition as well as a function of consumers’ preferences and perceptions.

Interviewed retailers of fresh vegetables in Tirana (where purchasing power is concentrated) state that the domestic products are highly preferred compared to the imported products. According to a recent survey ([4]), consumers perceive as attractive regions of origin for vegetables the regions of Korce, Kavaje, Durres, Tirane, Lushnje (part of the qark of Fier) and Shkoder.

Table 5 below reflects preferences of consumers in Tirana for “denomination of origin” for the main vegetables.

Table 5: Regions perceived with high reputation for vegetables sold in Tirana retail outlets.


Product Origin
Potatoes Peshkopi, Librazhd
Onions Korce
Cauliflower Fier
Cabbage Fier, Shkoder

                                                                                Source: DSA, 2009


[1] INSTAT, 2009 (b), Social indicators, available at:

[2] The region includes the districts of Fier, Lushnje and Mallakaster. The area of Divjaka is inside the district of Lushnje

[3] The wholesale area in Divjaka cannot be defined as a wholesale market as it is missing the minimal infrastructural and regulatory requirements, being rather an open air area where are exchanged large quantities of vegetables.

[4] World Vision Albania, 2009, Fruits and Vegetables value chain in Albania, DSA final report