Livestock and Pasturelands

Livestock and Pasturelands

A botched campaign to collectivize livestock in the late 1970s and early 1980s led to a wholesale slaughter and chronic production shortfalls. When meat and dairy product shortages in the larger towns grew critical, Albania's communists retraced their steps. The regime gave animal husbandry a high priority in the Eighth Five-Year Plan (1986-90). In July 1990, the government decided to allow collective-farm members to raise cattle on their private plots and instructed the administrators of collective farms to transfer a portion of their stock animals to members. The government also recommended that collective farms in mountainous areas grant members 0.2 hectares of land each, in addition to their private plots, in order to increase livestock production. In mid-1991, shortages of feed severely hampered livestock production and forced farmers to allocate much of their land to cultivation of forage and feed corn. The animals raised on this diet were deficient in protein and generally of poor quality. Despite the ban on food exports, herdsmen were reportedly smuggling about 1,000 head of calves, cows, sheep, and other livestock across the Greek and Yugoslav borders each day because they lacked fodder and sought to take advantage of high prices on foreign markets. An additional challenge to Albanian stockmen was a serious shortage of artificial-insemination and other veterinary services.

Albania's 409,528 hectares of pastureland remained state-owned despite the land reform, and in the chaos of 1991 the government set to work on a new law to reassert state control of pasturelands and give managers new guidelines. The Ministry of Agriculture's eighteen pasture enterprises managed grazing lands at the district level and charged customers, including private herdsmen and farmers, a seasonal fee. Price liberalization did not boost grazing fees even though the enterprises were operating at a loss in 1991. Ministry officials estimated that grazing fees could have to increase fourfold before the pasture enterprises could break even. Western economists projected that pressure on Albania's pasturelands would increase as livestock herds grew and as expanding communities sought land for residential and recreational purposes.

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