Award winner prevails in ruthless business environment

Gani’s family owns 30 acres of land, which is not sufficient for their aspirations as there are plenty of mouths to be fed and children to be taken care of. Therefore they rent additional land for use. Gani’s extended family includes six families who live in two houses, with 40 members in total. Nineteen children are under the age of 18. In the past most families in Kosovo were large, but nowadays it is rare.

Animal husbandry is a common occupation in Kosovo, but it is also a tradition in Gani’s family that he wanted to build up further. The number of livestock varies from year to year, yet the average is growing steadily. In spring last year they were fortunate enough to have 30 livestock.

Gani is not a typical client of KosInvest - he and his family are not the poorest of the poor - but Gani’s goal in life is to keep his family out of the serious poverty that is more common in rural communities in this war ravaged province.

Gani’s goal in life is to keep his family out of the serious poverty that is more common in rural communities in this war ravaged province

Kosovo’s economy is not very accommodating for agricultural developments. A large percentage of arable land has not been used for many years simply because it is not economically viable for families. Since Kosovo’s farmers started to rebuild their homes, infrastructure and other assets that were destroyed in the conflict, many desperately needed products have been imported. It is a challenge to begin using local resources nowadays since many of the imported products are subsidized by governments of countries of origin, putting local farmers in an unfair position to compete.

In these circumstances animal husbandry is mainly low scale and serves to sustain families’ needs first, with little surplus production reaching the market. Kosovo’s government efforts so far have had little effect on changing trends. Last year a drought deteriorated the situation further by causing shortages in feed supply and increased prices, increased cull and lower livestock prices.

Gani endeavored to stay in business during this time by applying for a loan with KosInvest to buy bulk concentrated feed to supplement his calves’ diet. The opportunity for the deal was favourable but it required some extra funds not available at the given moment. In 2007, he got a loan of US $2,868 from KosInvest and added US $2,294 himself to buy 20,000 kg of feed just before prices started to go up, reaching a staggering 75 percent increase in a relatively short period of time. This operation proved to be a sensible move by Gani as it mitigated the deteriorating situation.

His determination to stay in the business keeps his family busy, and often seasonal jobs are available to the wider community

“It is strange to hear the rumors that there is no benefit in milk production in Kosovo when milk imported from faraway Slovenia, Italy or Hungary is available in the market and it sells well. Likewise, it is strange to hear that cheap beef is being imported from Brazil while Kosovo’s animal husbandries are often just trying to break even. All this makes it clear that there is something wrong with Kosovo’s economy,” says Nexhmi Ademi, the KosInvest loan officer who processed the loan and monitored its repayment.

The business climate continues to be tough yet Gani has no intention of giving up as his family’s livelihood is at stake. Although it is not the only business the family runs, it is considered to be a valuable contributor to the family’s income in kind and in money. With 78 calves and bulls and four cows, it keeps up to six members of the family busy every day.

Furthermore, seasonal jobs are often available for the wider community, something Kosovo needs very much as the unemployment rate is approximately 60 percent. A relatively small loan for a business of this size helped effectively sustain and boost up all these jobs which otherwise may have been easily put on hold.

“I love this business so, I will persist and prevail despite the difficulties,” says Gani.

Gani’s hard work was recognised when he was awarded “Farmer of the Year” by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Kosovo

Gani’s hard work was recognised in December 2007 when he was awarded “Farmer of the Year” by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Kosovo. As practical support he also received two cows to improve the breed. Such recognition of his efforts and determination to persist gives him hope that animal husbandry has a future in Kosovo as in all countries.

Gani plans to build up his partnership with KosInvest in order to sustain and hopefully grow his business in the future. Upon paying back the loan Gani would like to buy a whole new generation of two-week-old calves, a sensitive venture that will require his wealth of experience, and perhaps another loan.