Albania's economy is dominated by agriculture, which although non-mechanized, fragmented and with a lack of high productivity accounted for 19.3 percent of total Gross Domestic Product in 2020, while in Europe the agricultural sector occupied only 1 , 3 percent of total GDP, according to Eurostat data.
The total value of agricultural production in 2020 was estimated at 411.8 billion euros in the EU of which about half (52.8%) came from crops (including 14.0% from vegetables and horticultural plants and 11.2% from cereals) and slightly less than two fifths (38.6%) from animals and animal products.
But agricultural incomes in the EU as a whole were slightly lower in 2020 compared to 2019. Agricultural income per unit of annual work in the EU was estimated 1.5% lower in 2020 than in 2019.
While in Albania the agricultural sector grew by 0.5% in 2020, further expanding its contribution to GDP. As other sectors of the economy, such as services and trade suffered strong declines from the pandemic, the share of agriculture in GDP during 2020 went to 19.3 percent from 18.4% in 2018.
Although the Agriculture sector is the main contributor to employment and GDP in official statistics, it also has the lowest productivity in the Region and beyond, while Food Imports in 2020 were 3 times higher than the sector's exports.
Official data on foreign trade show that in January-February 2021, sales of food products increased by 23% compared to the same period a year earlier, while exports of fresh produce increased by 74%. The high growth rates of exports include fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, processed ones, medicinal plants and most of the food groups, at a time when exports of non-food goods fell sharply, especially manufacturing.
Despite the expansion of exports, agriculture continues to be the least productive sector of the economy, and the increase in sales revenues is going more to supply chains than to producers. In the last quarter of 2020, the average gross monthly salary in agriculture was about 32 thousand ALL, or 40% lower than the national average salary. According to a study by the World Food Program (FAO), most farms in the country, those with an area of 1 hectare, result in losses and produce only for self-consumption.
Leading market operators claim that the increase came first from the high demand for food in foreign markets, driven by the pandemic and secondly from investments in key agricultural chains, storage and processing.