I am now back in Washington after a hectic but rewarding week in Podgorica where I have been looking at how one of the projects that I support is progressing. One of the activities that is financed under the project is a grants program where farmers can apply for grants to partially finance their investments through a similar structure as for the EU IPARD funds that Montenegro eventually will be eligible for. The program is just about to be launched within the next weeks there were therefore a lot of details to sort out so that everyone knows exactly what will apply and how to process the submitted applications. This involved not only the assigned staff in the Ministry, but also those who are in more day-to-day contact with farmers, such as extension agents. It is always immensely interesting to meet them and hear their views on how programs and policies work in reality, and what they see as the main problems that farmers face.
Apart from a lot of work, I also went out a lot for dinners this week, both job-related dinners and with my colleagues. When I travel for work, I normally prefer having something light for dinner and instead have a little time to myself for reading and writing. But this time, I went out almost every evening. The food is amazing in Montenegro (as all over the Western Balkans), with delicious fish, cheeses, prosciutto, and vegetables that is served with nice local wine. (Mainly Vranac) So it was a very good week and I am already looking forward to going back!