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Europe and Central Asia: Promoting green agriculture to transform local agrifood systems

03.08.2022 12:21 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today launched in the Europe and Central Asia region the Global Action on Green Development of Special Agricultural Products: One Country One Priority Product. This global initiative aims to make agrifood systems more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.

Introduced by FAOs Director-General in September 2021, One Country One Priority Product focuses on greening and promoting sustainable value chains of special agricultural products — local products with a special value that have not been mainstreamed in agricultural research and development. The FAO initiative brings them to the fore and accelerates their contribution towards improved food security, nutrition, and livelihoods.

At the virtual launch today, a broad range of actors from Europe and Central Asia learned about the One Country One Priority Product, laid out their priorities and comparative advantages in the food and agriculture sectors, and discussed opportunities for increased alignment. Participants included government representatives, development partners, research institutions, civil society, and the private sector.

«The One Country One Priority Product initiative seeks to optimize production processes, minimize negative impacts on the environment, and maximize productivity for a given product,» said FAO Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol in her opening remarks. «The initiative blends traditional knowledge with science, innovation, and technology to redesign value chains for the integration of special agricultural products into national, regional, and even global markets.»

The focus on special agricultural products is strategic — FAO seeks to raise the attention they deserve.

«They are hidden treasures with unique qualities and special characteristics, associated with healthy diets, geographical locations, the sustainable farming practices that are used in their production, or the unique contribution they provide to cultural heritage,» said FAO economist Pedro Arias,. «These special products are often produced, processed, and traded locally by small-scale actors and marginalized producers, including women. These groups of vulnerable people are waiting for something like One Country One Priority Product to help them in their efforts to integrate their special products into growing markets,» he added.

Countries of Europe and Central Asia have diverse and rich agricultural heritage and production systems that, combined with green development, offer great opportunities for policy-makers, development partners, and value chain actors to join forces in transforming agrifood systems into being environmentally sustainable, socially inclusive, and economically viable.

Informed by the holistic vision of the FAO Strategic Framework for 2022–31, the One Country One Priority Product initiative is one of the solutions that FAO put forward to support the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life — leaving no one behind.

Agro Perspectiva

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