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Abstract

Albania is a transition country aspiring to become a member of EU, while it is expected that it will become Candidate member within 2012, enabling access to IPARD funding. EU integration implies more opportunities, in form of subsidies for rural and agriculture development, but also imposes standards related to quality and safety on one hand, and enhancement of efficiency on the other hand. More specifically, in order to be eligible for the coming IPARD funding, Albanian agriculture holdings and agro-processors, need to meet national and EU safety standards (see [1], [2] and [3]). In this upgrading process, the role that extension services can and should play is crucial. The Albanian agriculture extension services have undergone a drastic change from the time of the state-organized economy to the market economy, as also the private extension services have emerged. In this study, we look into current situation and future perspectives for extension agriculture services in fruits, vegetables and livestock subsectors, in order to identify: a) the present behaviour related to the use and provision of extension services; b) the (perceived) needs for technical assistance and Capacity Building (CB) from the perspective of service providers and clients (agriculture holdings and agro-processors) with regards to services related to quality and safety standards, certification etc. Despite improvements in some private and public services, such as cattle insemination and vaccinations, other services are poorly served, such as services related to quality/safety standards certification [9]. Further research on extension services in Albania is needed as availability of quality extension services is a key factor to achieve agriculture competitiveness in Albania. This is particularly important in the context of EU integration and in the light of multiple relationships developing with the globalised economy in terms of: a) support to extension services through donor activities; b) chain interplay between local and foreign agriculture and agri-food industry; c) growing competition even in the domestic market.

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