Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.

Organic Herb Production – a route to sustainable development of rural Albania(Resource ID: 261)

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Activities of harvesting, cultivation, processing and trade of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) are major agro–forestry businesses, with huge potential for the sustainable development of rural areas of Albania. Organic farming seems to be one of the promising sub-sectors with huge potential for both farmers and processors. The learning materials developed consist of a set of lectures on organic herb production and the best practices in the wild collection of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs). These lectures will be combined with two case studies, that of Sonnentor ltd from Albania and Agroprodukt ltd from Kosovo, both exporters of organic MAPs. Other resources will be studies, short films, etc.

Activities of harvesting, cultivation, processing and trade of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) are major agro–forestry businesses in Albania. Albania is one of the richest and highest quality sources of many botanicals, making it an already known source of supply – 15% of its 3250 species are of medicinal, aromatic, spice and tannin are of significant value. The MAPs industry in Albania has a tradition of more than 60 years. MAP contributes to 18% of agriculture exports. Besides being a major revenue source for the economy reaching ~20 Million EUR/year in 2013, this sector plays an important socio–economic role, contributing up to 35% of household income, because it is estimated that about 80.000 people, especially from disadvantaged mountainous areas, are involved as harvesters or farmers. Recognizing the role and potential of this sub–sector, the Inter–Sectorial Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Development considers MAP as a very important sector for rural diversification and among the priority sectors to be supported through various instruments.

Most of the MAPs business is made by wild products. However, increasing labour costs in collecting wild-grown MAP due to overexploitation of natural resources in some areas and depopulation in some other areas, increasing procurement cost, competition between wholesalers and difficulty to match the market potential only with wild products are increasing the interest of the operators for cultivating some MAPs, especially herbs. Other factors, especially the high profitability and support by government subsidy schemes have drastically increased cultivation in recent years offering a considerable source of income for thousands of households. The cultivation surface has increased from 1877 ha in 2001 to 5000 ha in 2013 out of which 4000 ha are planted with sage and the rest with other plants such as lavender, thyme, and other plants.

There is potential for market expansion for many wild-grown MAP but most importantly (for farmers) for many cultivated MAP. However, this requires upgrading of cultivation, harvesting and post-harvesting technology. Organic farming seems to be one of the promising sub-sectors with huge potential for both farmers and processors.

Based on the need for resources on organic herb growing and good agricultural practices in harvesting of medicinal plants this component aims at preparing such resources which are useful for students, farmers and operators. These teaching resources will be combined with case studies of two companies, Sonnentor ltd from Albania and Agroproduk ltd from Kosovo. Both companies are exporters specialized in organic MAP have succeeded to organize farming according to standards required for organic production. For example, Sonentor ltd. is specialized in cultivation, collection and exporting of organic MAPs to Austria from a network of small suppliers which at the moment has reached about 100 ha of cultivation located in Pogradec, Korça, Skrapar, Gramsh, Lushnja. Since the beginning Sonentor has implemented contract farming with stable prices to ensure high quality, traceability and long-term partnership. Sonentor is planning now to enter into processing of raw materials.

Integration of Social Stakeholders
Besides the availability of the resources on organic herb growing, good wild collection/harvesting practices, we will involve two case studies, Sonnentor ltd in Albania and Agroprodukt ltd in Kosovo, both specialised in the production (both cultivated and wild collected) of organic raw material. They will be involved in the teaching process as active partners and students can get in direct contact with the network of farmers and wild collectors in several regions of Albania and Kosovo. The resources produced would be of benefit to these farmers and wild collectors. Moreover, students could offer business ideas to farmers and wild collectors.
– Active learning experience for students
– Mutual learning for students, farmers and business stakeholders
– Students learn to develop a sustainable business idea on the basis of existing enterprises active in the field of sustainability and social entrepreneurship
– Students think about their own opportunities and responsibility in the context of global change
– Some farmers (organic herb growers) would prefer hard copies of the materials rather than electronic versions
Learning Outcomes
Students should receive basic knowledge of the principles of organic production and collection of herbs. Moreover, they will understand the role of this sector in the Albanian and Kosovar economy, stakeholders involved in it and think about policies to support its development but also preserve the biodiversity.
Relevance for Sustainability
Depopulation of inner areas undermine the existing collection network of wild medicinal plants and hamper the sustainability of the value chain. Damaged wild MAPs population risks both sector sustainability and biodiversity. Moreover, too much focus on some MAP might cause over-supply. Risk is increased with the use of nitrites and the like in farming. These teaching resources contain good collection practices for wild medicinal and aromatic plants.

Development of a competitive and coordinated sector oriented towards increased volume and value added products which can meet the market standards and requirement preserving biological diversity and contributing to social and economic sustainability of rural families. The teaching resources contain both technical information on the cultivation of herbs and policies how to support the sector.
Related Teaching Resources
Basic knowledge on botanics and cropping
Preparation Efforts
Preparation Efforts Description
Preparation of course materials on organic herb production and good wild collecting practices; discussion with the representatives of Sonnentor and Agroprodukt and organisation of field visits; material for the presentation of case studies; translation of the film on Sonnentor into Albanian; uploading of all relevant materials.
Oral examination
Credit/Certification Description
(it is not part of the official curriculum as a course
Funded by
This teaching resource, realised within the project ConSus, has been funded with the support of the TEMPUS of the European Union. The contents reflect the views of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Endrit Kullaj
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
AUT - Agricultural University of Tirana
Agricultural University of Tirana


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Pillars of Sustainability

  • environment
  • economic

Teaching Tools & Methods

  • Written material
  • Video