Visegrad 2.0 : Question and Answers!

If you don’t see your question feel free to email us:   liridonmustafaj@outlook.com.  We will answer what we can, and ask our V4 partner for her opinion as well, then reply directly to you as well as add your question to the page.

Community Based Tourism and Agriculture : Activity 1

Q:  “Is there a fair trade wholesaler active in Albania?”

A:  (from Gyorgyi, our V4 partner) Without checking I believe there is no wholesaler buying from producers in Albania.  The wholesalers are mostly working in developing countries in the 3rd World (parts of Africa, Asia, etc).  BUT there is a huge interest among developed (for example EU) countries’ producers and the local certification is growing.  Albania is not in the 3rd World and also not a developed country, so this is a more difficult situation.

But there is a process how to bring fairtrade to Albania. Maybe we can have a call among us to talk about it in more detail.  Then I can share all my contacts with you and send out an email to fairtrade bodies to start the negotiations.

Q:  If I am growing something, how do I apply to be certified as a fairtrade producer?  Is it only through FLOCERT, or are there other organizations?

A: (TOKA)  To be formally certified you can contact FLOCERT through their website: https://www.flocert.net/solutions/standard-assurance/fairtrade-certification/.  On this page you will see they give an email, and welcome people to contact them.  If you need help with this, you can visit our office and we can help you write to them.

(TOKA)  If you are interested in fair trade, and want to be part of the network, you can also join WFTO which you can see here: https://wfto.com/join-us. I don’t think this means that you are allowed to use the fairtrade logo on your produce however.

Q:  If I am a member of WFTO, can I use the fairtrade logo on my products/business?

A:  (from Gyorgyi, our V4 partner) You have to go through the qualification process.  At the end, after acceptance by WFTO you can use the WFTO logo on your product / business. 

Q:  Is the process of becoming registered expensive?

A: (TOKA)  There is a fee calculator to join WFTO here: https://wfto.com/join-us  

Q:  Does there need to be a community of fairtrade producers in order to receive the community benefits (funds returned to the community), or is this possible even if there is only one producer?

A:  (from Gyorgyi, our V4 partner)  Usually a community is required.  The final decision is by the certification organization.

Q:  What is the fastest way of finding any fairtrade companies near me?

A: (TOKA) We found the “Fairtrace” website that FLOCERT operates, but I think you can only access it if you are a registered fair trade company?  https://www.flocert.net/fairtrace-login/

A:  (from Gyorgyi, our V4 partner)  You can contact FLOCERT directly.  For the WFTO organization, you can check on their website here:  https://wfto.com/who-we-are#members’-directory

Q:  I have an idea for a sustainable agriculture business.  Can I talk to you about it?

A:  There is an upcoming activity in this project is to support people with business ideas.  The best way to get really good advice about your business idea is to participate in this activity.   Contact us at liridonmustafaj@outlook.com if you would like to participate in this training.

Q:“How can I open a Guesthouse in mountains and how can I have a farm with organic products in the alpine pastures?”

A: (TOKA) Later in this project, there will be a training for how to plan a business – for example a guesthouse or a farm.  I think that until now, most people who have made businesses just started to try to do the work, but without any plan.  For example if you wanted to have a guesthouse, you put some extra beds in a room, and told all your cousins that now you have a guesthouse!  This can work, and has worked in Valbona, Doberdol, etc.  And in some ways it is nice, because you don’t have to spend a lot of money or take a big risk.  Also the business can grow slowly.  But of course there is also the problems:  Maybe no one else will hear about your business, maybe you won’t know the standards that tourists like, maybe you will get TOO much work, and not be able to do it all, etc.  The idea of a business plan is that you sit down before you start the business, and try to think of everything you need to know and do before you start, to make the most successful business you can as quickly as you can.  Therefore a business plan would say:  1. THIS is exactly what I want to do: (for example): “I want to open a guesthouse in the mountains which will be able to accommodate up to 20 people and feed them traditional bio food.  The guesthouse should be fully booked every day from June through September.  In addition, we will offer services of horse riding and guided hikes, also the opportunity to learn traditional skills like cooking and knitting.”  2.  Think about how you will make your business different and more popular than other similar businesses.  You should look at what other people are doing, and what you think you can do differently and/or better.  Will there be other similar businesses near you?  3.  Make a plan for how to advertise and attract clients.  4.  Have a plan for how much staff you need.  Where will you find them?  How much will you pay them. 5.  Have a budget!  How much money do you need to build the guesthouse and operate it for the first year?  Do you have this money or where will you find it?  Things like this are included in a business plan.  Basically, before you even start making the business, you can be confident that you have a good plan, and you know exactly what you are going to do. 

When we do this activity on planning a business, we will also post more videos and details about how to make this plan, and you can look and see if it is helpful to you.  As always, you can contact TOKA for help.

Also – Later (probably in July), we will also support 2 local people to be experts in business advice.  If you contact us, we can let you know when these people are working, and they can talk to you personally about your idea.

Q:  “How can I find out if this business is Fair Trade, and can I talk with you about it?”

A: (TOKA) Yes for sure you can talk to us about it.  Also in this project we will train 2 people from Tropoja to work as “business consultants” and they will be happy to sit with you and answer questions.  This was supposed to start in June 2020 but has been delayed because of the Quarantine situation – but we hope it can begin working soon!  In the meantime you are welcome to come and talk to us too.  We are not experts, but learning more all the time! 

Until then, you will see in the Fair Trade videos links to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) website, and the FLOCERT website to be registered as a fair trade business.  For example, for WFTO you can see here https://wfto.com/join-us, the process for becoming a member – ie, you will see the criteria.  They also have a document listing all the requirements, which you can read and see if your business or product matches.  (https://wfto.com/sites/default/files/WFTO%20Standard%204.1%20-%20interactive.pdf)

Unfortunately it is 40 pages long and in English – but we will work on translating it to Albanian so you can check if your business meets the standards.  Do notice that in order to join WFTO your business needs to have been open and earning money for at least 1 year- in other words you cannot join with an idea, but only a real business.  Of course even if you are not open yet, you can still look at the guidelines so that you can plan your business to be correct with Fair Trade standards from the beginning! 

Q:  “How can we protect Biodiversity?”

A (TOKA) This is a very good question!  In the Biodiversity Video (http://toka-albania.org/voice-for-tropoja-2-0/training-on-community-based-tourism-and-agriculture/biodiversity/) you will see some short answers:

Ways to Protect and Conserve Biodiversity: 

·         Government legislation

·         Nature preserves

·         Reducing invasive species

·         Habitat restoration

Captive breeding and seed banks

·         Research

·         Reduce climate change

·         Purchase sustainable products

The biggest threat to biodiversity

1. Over hunting ; Commercial hunting, both legal and illegal (poaching), is the principal threat.

2. Habitat Loss/Destruction/Fragmentation; The greatest cause of extinction today. Accounts for about 85% of population declines of birds and mammals. Habitat change hurts most organisms because they are adapted to an existing habitat. Alteration due to : Forest clearing , Agriculture, etc. Habitat destruction changes the conditions needed for particular plants and animals to survive.

3. Invasive Non- Native Species; accidental or intentional introduction of exotic species to new areas. species that are non-native to a particular area can sometimes spread very quickly. Most do not establish or expand, but some do – likely because they are ” released” from limitations imposed by their native predators, parasites, and competitors. in todays globalizing world, invasive species have become perhaps the second- worst threat to native biota.

4.pollution/litter; Air and water pollution ; agricultural runoff, industrial chemicals, etc. pollution does serious and widespread harm, but is not as threatening as the other elements of biodiversity loss

5. Intensive farming practices; extensive use and concentrations of chemical and/or biological pesticides. often large areas of land are planted with a single crop (monocultures) which greatly reduces the level of biodiversity in that area.

6. Climate change

7. Mining activities

How you can get an Ecocert certificate for a sustainable bussines?

A: (TOKA) On the Ecocert website, you can send them a message and an expert will contact you and help analyze whether your product or business are suitable to be certified. https://www.ecocert.com/en/contact