Southern Kosovo: EU support for economic development continues to yield results

(Source: EEAS)

The representatives of the EU family in Kosovo, including ambassadors of the Member States and the EU Ambassador in Kosovo, Tomas Szunyog, visited today Southern Kosovo to take stock of the positive effects the EU assistance is having on the economic development, women empowerment and cultural heritage protection.

They visited women-run Kooperativa Bujqesore (Agricultural Cooperative) in Krusha e Madhe/Velika Kruša; Gospodarska kuća (House of Nobles, a museum and gallery), and family winery Vinica Petrović, in Velika Hoča/Hoça e Madhe, and Bodrumi i Vjeter (Old Cellar) Winery in Rahovec/Orahovac, all recipients of the EU development grants. They also paid a visit to St. Jovan (John) Monastery in Velika Hoča/Hoça e Madhe.

“With two rounds of generous financial support from the EU in 2014 and 2020, which amounted to more than 400,000 euros, we managed to increase our production of pickles and ajvar from 600 to 1,200 tons. We also diversified our production to include 43 different products,” said Fahrije Hoti, director of the Kooperativa Bujqesore in Krusha e Madhe/Velika Kruša and the winner of the EU in Kosovo’s 2022 European of the Year Award.

“We established the cooperative to help widowed women from our community gain financial independence and sustainability. With the help of the EU, we managed to do a lot more. The cooperative now hires 50 women, five men, and 20 additional seasonal workers, and exports to nine EU countries.”

The visit to Velika Hoča/Hoça e Madhe focused on the protection and preservation of cultural heritage sites and their capitalisation through cultural and eno-gastro tourism. The House of Nobles was refurbished back in 2006 by the European Agency for Reconstruction and now functions as a gallery, museum and art colony. The Vinica Petrović was supported through the purchase of the equipment for the wine production, which helped them develop the family business, including a restaurant, and refurbish the old family house.

“We received the initial equipment from the EU that enabled us to start working on the wine production more seriously. We built on that support and now base our living on this business,” said Srđan Petrović, who inherited the wine-making business from his father and runs a restaurant.

The EU assistance to Bodrumi i Vjeter from 2013 to 2015 helped the company to increase the quality of their red wines and start exporting to the EU. The support they received between 2019 and 2022 enabled the company to increase production from two to three million litters a year, on average, of which approximately 70 per cent is exported to the EU.

“We are grateful that the EU had an ear and confidence in our business development plans. The growth we have achieved is not only good for our company which now hires 33 people, eight more than two years ago. It is positively affecting the whole of our region as we have increased the number of contracted farmers we work with from 157 to 185,” said Ruzhdi Haxhijaha, the owner and the director of the winery.

The EU support to Bodrumi vjeter amounted to EUR 850,000.

The EU remains Kosovo’s largest trading partner and the largest provider of financial assistance. From 2007 to 2020, it disbursed EUR 1.21 billion to Kosovo in the EU assistance funds.

Thanks to the EU support for the development of the agriculture sector in Kosovo, 100 agribusinesses adopted EU production standards and 80 increased energy efficiency, while more than 500 young people were employed.

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