FAO and Montenegro sign agreement on competitive, sustainable agriculture

Podgorica, 21 April 2015
Competitive, sustainable, resilient, and compatible with international standards – this is the direction that Montenegrin agriculture will take under an agreement signed with FAO.
The FAO Country Programming Framework for Montenegro 2015-2019 is the point of departure for FAO technical assistance to the country’s agricultural and rural development in the coming years.
Improvements are foreseen through projects in three main areas: adjusting agriculture and rural development policies and institutions to European Union requirements, adapting to climate change and natural hazards at local and national level, and better livelihoods for rural communities.
At the signing ceremony in Podgorica, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Petar Ivanović represented Montenegro, while Tony Alonzi, Deputy Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, represented FAO.
“We look forward to working with the government and people of Montenegro, to develop the country’s agricultural and rural sector,” said Alonzi. “The Country Programming Framework is a document that matches the country’s needs with the expertise and experience of FAO.” 
Agricultural capacities in this mountainous country, whose name literally means “black mountain,” have not yet achieved their full potential, according to FAO. The sector currently accounts for about 8 percent of Montenegro’s gross domestic product.
Modernization is an urgent need, to ensure that Montenegrin agricultural products comply with national, European Union and other international standards. FAO is supporting institutional strengthening in Montenegro within the European pre-accession framework, with a strong focus on market standards, food safety and shorter food chains. To translate this into practice, FAO will contribute to the training of farmers and extension workers. Emphasis will be on the sustainable management of coastal zone and maritime resources, and meeting aquatic animal health standards.
The agreement calls for assistance to Montenegrin institutions, farmers and nongovernmental organizations on preparedness for floods, droughts and other natural hazards. Work on adaptation to climate change also features in the document. FAO has significant experience on disaster risk management and climate change adaptation interventions.
Agriculture employs about one third of the active labor force in Montenegro. The majority are small-scale family farmers, often living in isolated and mountainous areas, who could benefit from “inclusive short value chains,” also foreseen in the agreement. A holistic approach to rural areas is expected to enable small farmers and other rural people, especially those involved in the meat sector, to meet new economic challenges.
Partnership between FAO and Montenegro has grown steadily since the country became a member of the Organization in 2007. Recently, FAO has been supporting the Ministry in developing the country’s Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy and Action Plan for the period 2014-2020.