High quality chestnuts have been growing since the second half of the 1990s, partly because of consumers growing interest in environmentally friendly and traditional products, but also domestic demand has been high. According to a number of studies, chestnuts from this zone are bigger and sweeter than other domestic chestnuts. Added to that, natural forests, biological production and the freshness of the Albanian Alps gives them a unique flavor.
Albanian chestnuts can be found in large surfaces in mountain sides and hills in Kolgecaj and Lekbibaj of Tropoja, in Shenmeri of Kukes, Dukagjini, Mes and Shllak of Shkodra, Kashnjet of Lezha, Shupal of Tirana, in Pogradec, in Lefterhori and Muzina of Delvina, in Dhrovjani and Leshnica of Saranda. With scarcity it can be found in Berati, Skrapari, Permeti, Gramshi, Tepelena and Kolonja on a total surface of 8000 ha. But, inside these surfaces with chestnut, there are hundreds of hectares suitable to be cultivated with chestnut, increasing, in such a way the number of existed ones and as well fulfill the demand from the EU market, by giving a boost to the local economy of these regions that live by the trade of chestnuts and other fruit nuts. According to AgroWeb.org research, the nut tree sector (walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts and almond) is an important sector identified as having export potential.
This sector seems to have a number of advantages, including suitable climate and land conditions, high profitability, a large unmet international demand and relatively low marketing. Recent experience, from rapid growth in the stone fruit sub-sector, shows that the Albanian farmers are keen and fast learners in adopting modern production technologies. At the same time cost of skilled and unskilled labor is very low providing a comparative advantage. Albania’s proximity to EU and its process of accession to become an EU member also provide comparative advantages in terms of low transport cost and Preferential Tariff regime of zero customs duties for all Albanian produce exported into EU./Klara Ruci/