***Tirana, 25 October 2017 – ***Among activities to mark World Food Day, dedicated this year to Food and Migration, a meeting on "The Role of Returned Migrants Returned to the Achievement of Sustainable and Long-Term Development Goals Sustainable " organized today with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the United Nations in Albania, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as well as other contributors to rural development. The meeting focused on the challenges returning migrants wanting to invest in the field of agribusiness, encounter.
In his speech, Mr. Arben Kipi, FAO Assistant Representative in Albania said: "Migrants returning to Albania bring innovative ideas and knowledge to invest in agriculture and rural development. Since they possess a yet not used potential, we need to create mechanisms that provide information and assistance to migrants on potential investment areas in Albania and, together with this, financial incentive mechanisms to increase investment in agriculture by returning migrants and from the diaspora."
"It is important to mention that migratory movements occur not only to those who leave and return to Albania, but also to residents moving from rural to urban areas. Although we are unable to prevent this, we need to create mechanisms for people to continue investing in rural areas. For us as United Nations, it is important that migrants always have safe passage routes, and are respected during their movements. This includes food security among other elements." said Brian Williams, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Albania.
It is important to emphasize the work that IOM is doing in cooperation with the Italian Cooperation Office in Albania through the new project for development and inclusion of the Diaspora. Following the work plan for the First National Strategy for Migrants Integration, IOM is working to bring services closer to immigrants and to map the skills and profiles of diaspora in the countries of their residence. A valuable component is also the creation of the ConnectAlbania platform, under the positive example of the Irish platform built for the same purpose, to increase investments and channel information on a single exchange platform.
Albania, a success model for sustainable solutions
Albania is in the group of countries that have fed migration inside and outside the country. There are a lot of cases when migrants, after gaining knowledge and resources in emigration, decide to return to Albania bringing with them knowledge and skills, thus becoming a potential for development for the country of origin, families and the community. We see many of them positioned in the agri-food sector, bringing investments in agriculture and rural areas. It is this Albanian model we want to see multiplied in the future, that supports and promotes local values, and benefits it brings to the development of rural areas and their sustainable economic growth.
In his remarks, Mr. Ilir Halilaj, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, expressed the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Albania to facilitate procedures and establish comprehensive offices for the provision of services related to agricultural enterprises.
Food and agriculture remain central to people’s well-being and linked to the reasons why many people migrate, especially from rural areas. More than 75 percent of the world’s poor and food insecure live in rural areas, mostly depending on agriculture and natural resource-based livelihoods.
The global plan to reach "ZeroHunger" in 2030 can only be achieved by understanding the links between food security, rural development and migration. Agriculture and rural development can address the root causes of migration, including rural poverty, food insecurity, inequality, unemployment and the eradication of natural resources due to environmental degradation and climate change.
Investing in sustainable rural development, adapting climate change, and rural livelihoods is an important part of the global response to the current migration challenge. Rural poor, especially small family farmers, face considerable difficulties in accessing credit, services, technology and markets, which will enable them to improve the productivity of natural and working resources. Most of the jobs in agriculture are associated with low and unstable income, poor health and safety conditions, gender in pay and opportunity, and limited social protection. Due to limited access to training, financial services and extension, the opportunity to increase investment and production in rural areas is still untapped.
The United Nations in Albania and other development partners will continue cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to create access to services and incentive mechanisms to increase investment in rural areas.