With added value and employment against illegal cannabis cultivation

In 2014 Albania was one of the most important producers and suppliers of cannabis for the European market. Then a nationwide eradication campaign pushed back the illicit cultivation – but only temporarily. In 2019 it is nevertheless clear: the Balkan state remains one of the main countries of origin for cannabis. In Albania's remote mountainous regions there are few lucrative legal employment and income opportunities – a lack of economic alternatives is one of the main causes of illicit cultivation. The GPDPD on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is therefore piloting project measures in the field of Alternative Development in risk areas.

According to the Albanian National Strategy Against Drugs (2012-2016), cannabis was mainly cultivated in the south of Albania until 2014. Due to extensive police measures in 2014 the cultivation was completely suppressed there. In the meantime, illegal cultivation is taking place in many other regions of the country, especially in remote and difficult to access mountainous areas. In 2017, the Albanian government followed up with a further National Action Plan (National Action Plan Against Cannabis Cultivation and Trafficking, 2017-2020) and is now taking nationwide action against illicit cultivation (EU Progress Report 2018).


The current action plan of the Albanian government recognises illicit drug crop cultivation as a development policy challenge. It deals with the risk factors that lead to illicit cannabis cultivation and their reduction: poverty and unemployment are to be curbed, state control of remote areas improved. On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development (GPDPD) is planning pilot measures of Alternative Development in affected regions together with the government. These are being initiated together with the Programme for Sustainable Rural Development of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), also financed by the BMZ, and in cooperation with the Albanian Ministry of Agriculture.