Ambassador Delawie’s remarks at the Agriculture Graduate Placement Program 

Ambassador Delawie’s remarks at the Agriculture Graduate Placement Program, January 23, 2018

Good morning everyone, Dean Kaçiu, Mr. Gergely, graduates.  It was just about two years ago, in this very room that Ambassador Martusz and I were together to help launch the Faculty of Agriculture’s Career Center, and it’s a pleasure to be back today to help celebrate its achievements.

I always love the chance to talk about Kosovo’s agriculture, and I am genuinely excited by the opportunities this sector brings to Kosovo’s economy and to Kosovo’s people.  In just the two short years since the Career Center launched, we’ve already seen a big surge in interest in agriculture as a career among young people in Kosovo.  At the same time, the sector continues its incredible transformation from small, family-owned farms of traditional crops, to a diversified sector of new value chains, new technologies, new economies of scale, and ever greater markets.

I’ve met with countless agribusinesses and local farmers since I came to Kosovo and I’ve seen first-hand how their hard work has changed their lives and their livelihoods.  It’s inspiring, and I’m so proud of our partnership as we work to generate increased returns on investment, reach new markets, improve quality standards – and above all – create new jobs for Kosovo’s people.

These advances are possible because we’ve seen a transformational change in attitudes among the firms in the agriculture sector and among new graduates themselves.  No longer is agriculture viewed as a means to provide food for one family’s table, and to garner chance surpluses sold at a local market.  Kosovo’s agriculture sector is becoming increasingly important as an employer and a source of livelihood, while contributing to broad-based economic growth.  And as the sector makes this fundamental shift, it is critical that agribusinesses have access to graduates with the skills and the commitment to take these companies, and this critical sector, to the next level.  That means improved product quality, higher productivity, innovation, access to new and diversified markets – all necessary to improve livelihoods across Kosovo.

The Career Center is therefore playing a pivotal role at a pivotal time, equipping students with the right skills and technical knowledge and enabling the kind of on-the-job training that will prepare them for dynamic needs of the labor market.  This sector must have the ability to attract the best and the brightest to study at this Faculty, and that means that these graduates in turn need to know there will be opportunities for them to apply their knowledge, their hard work, and their enthusiasm.

I had a chance to meet with several graduates earlier this morning, who have found full-time employment, and I hope to see that trend continue.  I offer congratulations to the graduates here today, and my sincere appreciation to the 35 companies that have participated in this program so far.  You have now seen first-hand the benefits of nurturing young talent.  No industry can remain static, and I urge you to keep creating opportunities to bring these new experts with their new ideas into your growing businesses.

Again, it’s a privilege to be here with our partners from the Hungarian Embassy .  I greatly appreciate your continued support to Kosovo students through your scholarship program, which has been essential to so many scholars across sectors in Kosovo.

I also want to acknowledge the Faculty of Agriculture, for your efforts to adapt your curricula and teaching methods to a changing industry, and by supporting your graduates through the terrific Career Center.  We know that sustaining these programs is a challenge, and we’re committed to supporting you as you look to expand in the coming year.  And I hope my colleagues across the donor community will join me in this as well.

From asparagus to medicinal and aromatic plants, and of course, to my personal favorite, raspberries, commercial agriculture is now seen as a smart career choice that can generate a good living.  But more needs to be done to help this sector grow and to put Kosovo firmly on the map as an origin of choice for safe, high-quality food.

The businesses and young graduates here today are the vanguard of that effort, and I wish you every success as you continue to transform Kosovo’s agriculture, and bring opportunities to your fellow citizens all across the country.

Thank you very much.