TWENTY-FOURTH FAO REGIONAL CONFERENCE FOR EUROPE
MONTPELLIER, FRANCE, 5-7 MAY 2004
Agenda Item 9
REPORT ON FAO ACTIVITIES IN THE EUROPEAN REGION 2002-2003
1. The present document provides a brief report on major activities undertaken by FAO in the European Region during the biennium 2002-2003. It will be recalled that the long-term priorities identified within the Strategic Framework 2000-2015 were endorsed by the 22nd FAO Regional Conference in 2000. In drawing up these priorities, account was taken of the agricultural policies of Western European countries, including such issues as EU enlargement and WTO accession, and of the special requirements of Central and Eastern European and CIS countries as they move towards market economies and attempt to revitalize their rural sectors.
2. For each major programme under Chapter 2 of the PWB 2002-03, only the more significant areas in which FAO activities were carried out in the European Region are highlighted.
3. Programme 2.1.1: Natural Resources: activities focussed on assistance in dealing with land resources and land management for sustainable agriculture, and ranged from mapping soil and terrain vulnerability in Central and Eastern Europe to training activities for improved land and water resources management, particularly in some of the Central Eastern European and Mediterranean countries. The latter activities have been carried out in collaboration with important partner organizations such as the International Centre for High Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) and the International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID). A Seminar on Integrated Water Management of the Tisza River Basin was held in Budapest in November 2003. The Seminar brought together delegations from Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia and Ukraine. The Seminar also attracted relevant expertise and experience from outside the subregion, the Netherlands, the NGO sector and representatives from EU institutions. The Seminar provided important technical elements for project formulation and as a result, FAO was encouraged to develop a project concentrating on the five riparian states of the Tisza catchment that will assist the participating countries to conform to the EU Water Framework Directive. Technical assistance was specifically provided to: (i) Moldova and Romania for strengthening capacity in agricultural development through remote sensing and GIS; (ii) Bosnia and Herzegovina in strengthening the capacity for land resources management at country, entity and pilot area level (a third phase of the project is under formulation); (iii) Czech Republic in the sustainable utilization of agricultural “abandoned” land; (iv) Malta in formulating a comprehensive legislation for groundwater management; (v) Moldova on modern small-scale on-farm irrigation technologies; and (vi) Uzbekistan on the integrated management for sustainable use of salt affected and bypsiferous soil and in promoting sustainable agriculture practices in the drought-affected region of Karakalpakstan.
4. Programme 2.1.2: Crops: this Programme includes work in plant genetic resources and Secretariat support to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The Programme also includes technical support to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. On 31 March 2004, the EC and twelve of its Member States plus two acceding countries deposited their instruments of ratification of the Treaty. This raised the number of ratifications to 48, making it possible for the Treaty to enter into force on 29 June 2004. An FAO mission visited Uzbekistan in October 2003 to assist the government in the development of a draft project document on Seed Production and Seed Quality Improvement of Agricultural Crops in the country. FAO also participated in the FAO/ICARDA meeting held in Armenia which aimed at initiating activities that could lay the foundation for regional seed activities in the Central Asian Countries. Other activities were aimed at improving crop production and reducing losses due to pests, and included support for the European Cooperative Research Networks. Technical assistance was provided in a range of areas: (i) rehabilitation of the hybrid maize seed industry (Albania), (ii) strengthening of locust and rodent control capabilities and initiating IPM practices (Armenia), (iii) strengthening phytosanitary capabilities (Estonia and Azerbaijan), and (iv) rehabilitation of hazelnut and walnut nurseries (Georgia). Assistance is being provided in the field of integrated production and pest management of the Western Corn Rootworm (WCR) at the national level (Serbia and Montenegro) and at regional level (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and Slovakia).
5. Programme 2.1.3: Livestock: the technical assistance provided included: (i) controlling of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the three Caucasian countries through a short-term programme to support training and laboratory support for surveillance, and serological monitoring; strengthening active surveillance for FMD and other exotic diseases in the Thrace region (Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece); (ii) formulation of a strategy for active conservation of the dual-purpose Pinzgau cattle breed (Romania and Slovak Republic); and (iii) assistance to livestock farmers in the Sandzak region (Serbia and Montenegro). The first Sub-regional Workshop for Central and Eastern European and European Union countries to review country reports on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources (SoW-AnGR) and to identify national priorities was held in Slovenia in March 2003. The Workshop was attended by 45 participants from 22 countries and during the meeting national country reports or draft country reports were presented. A Sub-regional Country Report Review Workshop for Nordic, Baltic, Caucasian and EU countries was held in Latvia in May/June 2003. The Workshop was attended by 12 countries which submitted draft country reports. The tripartite FAO/OIE/WHO meetings were regularly held during the biennium in order to continue negotiations and review progress achieved on the “Global Framework for the Progressive Control of FMD and Other Transboundary Animal Diseases” (GF-TADs). Major partners included the EU, the European Association for Animal Production, the International Committee for Animal Recording, the European Commission on Foot and Mouth Disease and the Office International des Epizooties (OIE). Activities have broadened to include support for the updating of National Animal Genetic Resources Databanks in all European countries and for upgrading of laboratory diagnosis and veterinary standards for full compatibility with OIE and EU requirements. In addition, they have also included programmes for cooperation on animal genetic resources management, capacity-building of advisory services on animal production and of disease contingency planning and preparedness, including modern veterinary epidemiology.
6. Programme 2.1.4: Agricultural Support Systems: a number of workshops and studies were organized with substantial input from the Sub-regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe (SEUR) on the specific issue of land fragmentation of farming structures as a result of the process of privatization and restitution in the region leading to significant constraints in the development of private family farms: (i) Workshop on Farmer Partnership and Cooperation for Improved Farm Enterprise Development and Access to Support Services in CIS and the Balkan Countries (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, FYR of Macedonia, Moldova and Serbia and Montenegro); (ii) Workshop on Farm Commercialization and Income Diversification on the Road to the EU Accession (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia); (iii) Workshop on Large Farm Management – Challenges and Prospects for Sciences and Practice attended by nearly 200 participants from 27 European countries; case studies to review new income-generating and value-adding activities at the farm and community level in Central and Eastern European countries (countries covered: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). Technical assistance provided ranged from agro-processing and marketing to market information systems development and included: (i) agricultural production support (Albania); (ii) capacity-building for sustainable delivery of agribusiness advice to market-oriented farmers (Bulgaria); (iii) introduction of improved agriculture, mechanization, irrigation and marketing skills to assist economic recovery of conflict- and drought-affected areas (FYR of Macedonia); (iv) formulation mission for a project to support the promotion of beekeeping (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia). With European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) financing, a regional project on the establishment of a CEI (Central European Initiative)1 Wholesale Market Foundation was implemented. The overall objective of the project was to enhance the efficiency and services provided by the newly-constructed CEI wholesale markets so as to increase their incomes and their financial sustainability. The specific objectives of the CEI Foundation supported by the project were: (i) improvement of market operations, (ii) improvement of services to attract large-scale, modern retailers; and (iii) improvement of exchanges of information and experience.
7. Programme 2.1.5: Agricultural Applications of Isotopes and Biotechnology: During the period under review, the Programme continued to contribute to FAO’s normative and operational disciplinary work on Natural Resources, Crops, Livestock and Agricultural Support Systems to support technologies and practices that underpin the Organization’s strategic objectives, including water efficiency through fertilization, industrial crops improvement, marker assisted selection methods; improvement of AI (artificial insemination) services and diagnostic methods for EMPRES diseases. This Programme has also contributed to the objectives of Major Progamme 2.2 and 2.2.1 through its work on irradiation as a sanitary and phytosanitary treatment for food and agricultural commodities and sampling and analysis of contaminants and residues covered by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. In recent years, the Programme has contributed increasingly to the development of international standards and guidelines through the IPPC and OIE and has increased its commitment to inter-disciplinary work within the PAIAs, particularly that on Biotechnology, Biosecurity and on Integrated Production Systems.
8. Programme 2.2.1: Nutrition and Food Quality Control and Consumer Protection: following the International Conference on Nutrition recommendations, work continued with implementation of Plans of Action for improving nutrition in the countries in the region. A WHO Meeting on Nutrition Action Plans for Nutrition Counterparts in Europe with input from FAO took place in Greece (February/March 2003). FAO also participated in the Scientific Conference on “Food safety and nutrition as the public health problem in Poland on the verge of accession into the EU” (Poland, November 2003) organized by the National Food and Nutrition Institute (NFNI) of Poland. This Institute served as the Country Focal Point for the ICN and jointly organized the consultation on ICN follow-up in the European Region and OECD countries. It also organized, jointly with FAO, the Third CEECFOODS Conference and serves as coordinator of the Sub-regional Technical Cooperation Network on Food Composition Activities in Central and Eastern Europe.
9. Following the recommendations of the Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality, the 23rd FAO Regional Conference for Europe and the 52nd Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, FAO and WHO began to implement a number of initiatives and activities. In all initiatives, FAO sought the collaboration of or worked together with other international agencies, especially with WHO. Some of the activities implemented were: (i) the Subregional Training Workshop on Total Diet Studies for Accession Countries (Brno, Czech Republic, November 2002); (ii) the First Technical Workshop of the South East Europe Nutrition and Food Safety Project (Belgrade, November 2002); (iii) the Seminar on “Food safety enhancement for trade and public health” organized within the framework of the CEI (Central Europe Initiative) Summit Economic Forum (Skopje, November 2002); (iv) the FAO/Slovak Workshop on the Internet Portal on Food Safety – Communication systems to ensure food safety and build consumer confidence (Nitra, March 2003) with the participation of 46 delegates representing 21 countries; (v) the First Workshop on Food Policy and Legislation for South Eastern Europe (Belgrade, May 2003); (vi) International Workshop on the Development of National Food Safety Strategies” (Czech Republic, October 2003).
10. As far as training activities are concerned, WHO organized training courses on food legislation and HACCP for the Central Asian Republics for which FAO provided a trainer and training materials on the Codex Alimentarius. Furthermore, the FAO Manual on HACCP and food hygiene was translated into Russian.
11. Technical assistance was provided to (i) strengthening the food quality and safety system (Turkey) and (ii) setting up a National Codex Committee (Moldova). Food Safety Assessment missions were undertaken in Armenia and in Serbia and Montenegro while a position paper on food safety control was prepared for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The following project proposals have been formulated: (i) upgrading the food safety control capacity and (ii) establishment of a training centre on food safety control (Bulgaria); (iii) strengthening food safety in South East European transition countries – a regional approach to food legislation and control (Balkan countries), and (iv) food safety capacity-building in Caucasian republics – a regional approach.
12. Programme 2.2.2: Food and Agricultural Information: focus has been placed on improving the quality of agricultural information, including collection, analysis and dissemination in Central and Eastern European countries. A Workshop was organized in Moldova in September 2003 on “Moving towards an Agricultural Statistics System for the Market Economy” with the participation of 11 countries (Balkan and CIS countries). A Seminar on “National System of Food and Agricultural Statistics” is being organized in May 2004 which will take place in Romania with the participation of experts from Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Poland, and Turkey. In the field of information and communications technologies, the Subregional Office for Central and Eastern Europe (SEUR) has continued activities on expanding the Agro-Web (the dissemination of information based on the establishment and extension of an agricultural information network for Central and Eastern European countries). SEUR has (i) contributed and actively participated in the Regional Agricultural Information System for Central Asia and Caucasus Region Workshop (Uzbekistan, November 2003); (ii) participated in a mission to Armenia (November 2003) for a joint FAO-DFID-WB programme for knowledge systems in support of rural livelihoods; and (iii) organized the Web AGRIS/IMARK Workshop held in Ukraine (February 2004) attended by 19 participants from 13 countries in the Subregion. The REU and SEUR Webpages have been revised.
13. Activities under sub-programme 2.2.3.: Food Information and Early Warning Systems merit a separate mention: GIEWS monitoring of food supply and outlook in the Balkan and CIS regions in 2002-03 continued. A Special Report issued by GIEWS was based on the findings of the Joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Tajikistan in June-July 2002. Monitoring of the cropping and food supply situation in CIS countries was also intensified in response to an unusually cold winter and very dry summer.
14. Programme 2.2.4: Agriculture, Food Security and Trade Policy: Technical backstopping was provided by REU for an information and capacity-building regional project on food insecurity in four countries of the former Soviet Union, the objective of which was to provide sufficient training to enable participating governments to monitor and respond to food security crises. This three-year project comprised training for participants in agricultural survey methodology, food security analysis; household budget survey methodology and analysis; food balance and production projection analysis; and capacity-building on how to assemble food security bulletins for each participating country. A second phase of the project is under formulation.
15. An assessment of food security in the Russian Federation was carried out under a project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The assessment involved a special food security survey in eleven oblasts of the Russian Federation, as well as a thorough study of available information on food security from both Russian and other sources. The project made policy recommendations to the government, raised awareness in the country of the importance of undernutrition and trained a small cadre of professionals in techniques for conducting socio-economic interviews as well as on how to plan and carry out surveys, the latter being an important factor for further monitoring of food insecurity problems in the Russian Federation. The report of the project was published in 2003.
16. A staff member from the Regional Office for Europe was seconded to the World Bank (under the FAO/World Bank cooperative programme) for the WB project on the “Economic and Social Impacts of Farm Restructuring” (missions were undertaken to Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Bulgaria and Moldova). FAO has participated and has contributed to two Workshops held in Estonia, (i) “Ten years of agricultural transition in Estonia” (December 2002) which provided an opportunity to assess agricultural reform in Estonia and appraise the readiness of Estonian agriculture for accession to the EU. This was followed by (ii) another Workshop on “The Impact of the WTO Process on Agriculture in the Economies of Transition” (July 2003). The participants to the latter were from CIS and CEE countries some of which are not yet members of the WTO. One purpose of the workshop was to discuss how these non-member countries could ease their transition to WTO membership and consequently to a low tariff, low support regime with its inevitable consequences.
17. To give effect to the Code of Conduct of Responsible Fisheries and other recent international fishery instruments, a number of activities were focussed on supporting responsible fisheries in the Adriatic Seas (ADRIAMED project financed by Italy) and on the creation of cooperation networks in the management of fisheries resources in the Mediterranean so that resources are more accurately evaluated and socio-economic and environmental aspects taken into account (COPEMED project financed by Spain).
18. Direct technical assistance was provided for (i) support to income generation through the establishment of a fish hatchery (Bosnia and Herzegovina), (ii) the re-opening of migration routes for salmon and other migratory fish (Estonia), (iii) strengthening the capacity of the Department of Fisheries to support fisheries sector rehabilitation (Georgia) and (iv) upgrading of fishing technology in Lake Balaton (Hungary), the latter project started implementation in March 2004.
19. The 22nd Session of the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC) was held in the UK (June 2002) during which activities in the fields of fishery biology and management, aquaculture, protection of the aquatic resources, and social and economic issues were reviewed. The 28th Session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) was held in Morocco (October 2003) to review intersessional activities of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), to assess the status of ratification of the amendments to the GFCM Agreement, to discuss the implementation of the international Plan of Action on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to adopt fisheries management measures.
20. Activities addressed a broad range of issues from enhancing institutional capabilities, including regulatory aspects, with a view to harmonize forestry policy and legislation with those of the EU (Cyprus), to privatization of forestry sector management, with the emphasis broadly placed on sustainable mountain development and management of forestry resources (Albania, Armenia, Czech Republic, Latvia and Slovenia), or on more specific aspects such as the preparation of the national forestry programme (Serbia and Montenegro, and Turkey), modern forest fire prevention, monitoring and control strategies (Bulgaria), and emergency control of pests affecting forests (TFYR of Macedonia). Formulation missions to Hungary and Romania were undertaken and project documents on “support to the design and development of innovative forest management schemes in Hungary” and “a strategy for sustainable forest management and rural development in the Cluj Region” in Romania are being finalized.
21. Within the International Year of Mountains (IYM) activities, the Swiss Government, in close collaboration with FAO, organized an International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Regions (SARD-M) which was held in Adelboden (Switzerland) in June 2002. The Conference adopted the Adelboden Declaration which was presented at both the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development and at the Bishkek Global Mountain Summit in October 2002. As follow-up to the Adelboden Conference, the Swiss Government and FAO agreed, through a one-year project on SARD-M initiated in May 2003, to work together in order to:
22. During the period under review, a number of meetings were organized and conducted: (i) the 31st Session of the European Forestry Commission (EFC) (Spain, November 2002), the objectives of which were to discuss and assess technical and policy issues and trends of relevance to forestry in the region, to develop and advance mechanisms for regional and sub-regional cooperation in addressing forestry problems and to advise FAO on policy formulation and on priorities for its forestry programme in the region; (ii) Regional Workshop on “Support to Multifunctional Forestry in Central and Eastern Europe” (Czech Republic, December 2002); (iii) FAO/ECE/ILO Conference on Forest Fire Management and International Cooperation in Fire Emergencies in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans and Adjoining Regions of the Near East and Central Asia (Turkey, April 2003); (iv) the Joint UNECE/FAO Roundtable on Trade, Environment and Forests (Geneva, July 2003), which provided a forum for information and opinion exchange on current issues in the forestry, environment and trade sector; (v) FAO/Government of Turkey Regional Workshop to exchange experiences for the Development of National Policies and Institutional Capacities in the Forestry Sector (October 2003); (vi) Seminar on strategies for the sound use of wood (under the auspices of the UNECE Timber Committee and the FAO EFC) to stimulate and promote the sound use of wood and other forest-based products (Romania, March 2003).
23. Within the framework of the support that FAO provides to the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and to the UNCCD Secretariat, FAO contributed to a number of meetings/workshops organized in the Region: (i) Regional Meeting for Northern Mediterranean, Central and Eastern European and Other affected country parties in preparation of the First Session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Conference” held in Geneva (July 2002); (ii) a Workshop for Central and Eastern European focal points on regional cooperation activities within Annex V of the UNCCD held in Geneva (July 2003); and (iii) the regional meeting for strengthening cooperation in the field of land resources management in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) (Belarus, December 2003).
24. Programme 2.5.1: Research, Natural Resources Management and Technology Transfer: direct technical assistance has been provided to (i) Kosovo through project “Strategy on Education and Training for Agriculture and Rural Development (ETARD)”, (ii) Croatia through project “Diversified Value-added production and certification in environment-friendly farming systems”, and (iii) Turkey through project “Formulation of a project for the development of organic agriculture and alignment of related Turkish legislation”.
25. In the field of Information, Communication and Knowledge Systems (AKIS), a workshop was organized on “Information and Communication Management Capacities of National Agricultural Institutions in Lithuania” (Vilnius, June 2003), and an International Workshop on “Information and Communication Systems for Agricultural Research and Rural Development” was organized by the Romanian Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences and FAO (Romania, February 2004). A national project document to improve AKIS for sustainable and organic agriculture in Lithuania has been formulated and should become operational in the near future.
26. A needs assessment for information and communication capacity-building for improved agriculture in three East European Countries: Croatia, Romania and the FYR of Macedonia between February and June 2003. The aim of the study was to evaluate the current information system for agriculture, meaning the tools, actors and channels of communication through a series of interviews with key informants covering the following stakeholder perspectives:
27. As follow-up to the assessment missions carried out by FAO during the previous biennium and the resulting report on the Status of Agricultural Biotechnology and Biosafety in Selected countries of the Balkans, the Caucasus and Moldova (published in July 2003), a Workshop on Agricultural Biotechnology and Biosafety for Food Security and Rural Development in the Caucasus Region and Moldova was held in Armenia in October/November 2003. The Workshop was organized by the UNESCO Life Science International Education Centre and FAO. The purpose of the workshop was to share information on the status of agricultural biotechnologies in the region, to analyze the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats for agricultural biotechnologies to contribute to food security and rural development in the region, to identify gaps and to formulate draft project ideas to fill critical gaps for the successful application of agricultural biotechnologies.
28. FAO contributed and participated in the 16th European Seminar on Extension Education (Eger, Hungary, September 2003). The objective of this seminar was to provide a critical assessment of extension’s role and its new mission in improving the lives of rural people through an educational process focused on needs of communities. The seminar was attended by more than 100 representatives from the field of extension education, as well as from public and private extension services.
29. Cooperation continued with major European research institutions and programmes, particularly with CIHEAM (International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies), EFARD (European Forum for Agricultural Research for Development), EIARD (European Initiative for International Agricultural Research for Development), and EFITA (European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and Environment).
30. Programme 2.5.2: Gender and Population: the incorporation of gender issues into policies, programmes and projects was further advanced with a series of training events, using the methodology developed by FAO Socio-economic and Gender Analysis (SEAGA) (Italy and Slovenia). Within the framework of the Working Party on Women and the Family in Rural Development, a number of meetings and workshops were organized in the region on issues such as the role of women in sustainable agriculture and rural development; planning, monitoring and evaluation of rural development programmes and projects with a view to integration of gender and participatory dimensions; community mobilization and motivation for participation in rural development. Technical backstopping was provided for projects being implemented in Georgia and Slovenia.
31. Programme 2.5.3: Rural Development: land consolidation/land management issues and the relevance of land management for sustainable rural development in the region are of crucial importance and of direct concern to FAO, the World Bank, the European Union and UNECE. Therefore, activities in this sector are carried out in close cooperation by the experts of the four institutions. During the period under review, FAO carried out a study of land tenure data requirements in the context of EU accession and other relevant policy initiatives. In addition, three national case studies have been undertaken for Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland. A preparatory workshop was held in October 2002 to discuss and agree methodologies and schedules with the organizations carrying out the national case studies. The final workshop took place in March 2003.
32. FAO has had a strong involvement in the setting up of the network “Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Initiative on Real Property Rights” (consisting of practitioners, experts and decision-makers from both ECA countries and the donor community, including private sector and NGOs) which has led to the creation of the Central European Land Knowledge Centre (CELK) hosted in the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Development (MoARD) and funded by the World Bank and the Government of Hungary. Inputs to CELK are ensured through the secondment of the Land Tenure and Rural Development Officer in SEUR under the FAO/WB cooperative programme.
33. A Land Consolidation and Land Tenure Assessment was carried out in early 2003 in Serbia and Montenegro. Draft project documents were prepared for Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, TFYR of Macedonia and Romania. FAO organized a regional workshop on “Participatory and negotiated territorial planning – management: integrating the diversity of territories and actors’ visions: working on approaches, methods and tools” in Budapest (April 2003) which focused on relevant issues and experiences in participatory and negotiated territorial planning and management, giving priority to work conducted in, or relevant to, the Central and Eastern European region. FAO contributed and participated in the UNECE/WPLA (Working Party on Land Administration) Workshop on organizational sustainability and capacity-building (Edinburgh, October 2003) organized by the Registrars of Scotland and attended by 70 delegates from 34 countries, several of which from Central and Eastern Europe, and the International Workshop on improved land management on the road to EU accession (Latvia, October 2003) attended by 35 participants comprising policy-makers, researchers and practitioners from Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden. FAO also organized a Workshop on “Agricultural cooperative field programme development in CEE with particular attention to the countries of the Balkans” in Budapest (November 2003), the objective of which was to further assist the development and strengthening of farmer groups/agricultural cooperatives through assessing their current status, problems and specific external assistance needs, with particular reference to training, in selected countries of the sub-region. An FAO Land Tenure Study on “The design of land consolidation pilot projects in Central and Eastern Europe” was published in 2003.
34. FAO continued to contribute to the CEESA (Central and Eastern Sustainable Agriculture) project carried out in collaboration with the Humboldt University (Berlin) which serves as a forum for exchange of views, knowledge and results on sustainable agricultural development among specialists from the EU and CEE countries as well as decision and policy-makers of the CEE sub-region.
35. Programme 2.5.6: Food Production in Support of Food Security in LIFDCs: direct technical backstopping is provided for the regional project “Integrated pest management for the Western Corn Rootworm in Central and Eastern Europe” (funded from the Italian contribution to the Trust Fund for Food Safety and Food Security). The other important projects in the region addressing poverty reduction through support to sustain rural livelihoods and food security are: (i) agriculture production support in Albania (funded by Italy); (ii) support to income-generation through the establishment of a fish hatchery in Bosnia and Herzegovina (financed by Norway) where war invalids are employed; (iii) development assistance to livestock farmers in the mountainous areas of the Sandzak Region in Serbia and Montenegro (financed by the Netherlands); (iv) support to refugee integration through agriculture activity in Serbia and Montenegro (financed by Norway); (v) introduction of improved agriculture, mechanization, irrigation and marketing skills to assist economic recovery of conflict- and drought-affected areas in the FYR of Macedonia (financed by Norway).
36. This Chapter covers a range of services in direct support to Member Nations’ development efforts, including policy advice and support to programme and project formulation, with special emphasis on those with investment potential, as well as operational services for the execution of country programmes.
37. This major programme covers primarily the work of the Policy Assistance Division’s decentralized units, with a Branch in the Regional Office and a Unit in the Sub-regional Office.
38. Support and advice in the formulation of national sectoral strategies and programmes and in related institutional capacity-building has been provided to Armenia, Croatia and Romania.
39. Other activities in the region, aside from continuous collaboration with such partners such as OECD, the World Bank and the EU, included:
40. The programme covers primarily the work carried out by the Investment Centre Division in cooperation with the technical divisions and units. In the region, the Centre has played a key role in partnership with the World Bank , the Global Environment Facility, IFAD and the EBRD, particularly in assisting the development of fisheries in Albania, small-scale commercial agriculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina, forests management systems in Georgia, rural investment services and agricultural revitalization in Moldova, seeds in Poland, irrigation rehabilitation in Romania, water pollution reduction in Slovenia and malt/barley sector in Ukraine. In partnership with the EBRD, the Centre has also been active in the emerging market economies of Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), helping countries to identify investment opportunities and promote private enterprise growth in rural areas, with special focus on the agribusiness sector.
41. During the period under review, the Centre has identified a poverty reduction and watershed rehabilitation project in Albania (WB). Project formulation work was undertaken for a water resource management project in Albania, forest rehabilitation and sustainable management in Bulgaria, rural development in Georgia (all WB) and a grain warehouse receipts programme in Poland (EBRD). The Centre participated in the appraisal of a watershed rehabilitation project in Turkey (WB) and carried out sector reviews for a wood sector project in Armenia (EBRD), agribusiness development and brewery in Uzbekistan (EBRD), microfinance development in rural areas in Bulgaria (EBRD) and agricultural development in Serbia and Montenegro (all WB). It supervised WB projects in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Georgia, FYR of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania and Turkey.
42. During the 2002-2003 biennium, nine investment projects in Europe prepared with major Investment Centre input were approved for financing by cooperating financing institutions. Total investments mobilized for these projects amount to approximately US$ 293 450 000.
43. Cooperation between FAO and the EBRD was further strengthened during the period under review. As a direct follow-up to the recommendations of the High-level Panel on Resource Mobilization for Food Security and Agricultural and Rural Development convened by FAO in June 2001, the Centre organized a Forum on financing for the agribusiness sector in Eastern and Central Europe and CIS in March 2002 and an FAO/EBRD Workshop on agribusiness/agricultural investment, in November 2003, when participants agreed to form the Eastagri Network and FAO was appointed coordinator for the Network.
44. Programme 3.3.1: Field Operations: The period under review was characterized by a further decentralization of operational responsibilities for projects to the FAO Representatives and to the Regional Offices. In the case of Europe, in view of the absence of FAO Representations in the region (except Turkey), the operational responsibilities for projects previously operated by the Field Operations Division (TCO) were transferred to the Regional Office for Europe (REU). REU currently operates 51 projects in the Region. Emergency projects continued to be operated by TCE, while operational responsibility for regional/inter-regional and projects classified as “normative” was placed with the concerned technical units. Project delivery increased from US$ 4 million in 2002 to US$ 7.6 million in 2003. Assistance is provided to 27 countries. Field programme development activities in 2004 will concentrate inter alia on rehabilitation activities in the Balkan countries but also on Caucasus countries with additional TCPs regarding capacity building. In this context, implementation activities of donor-funded projects from Norway and Sweden in Kosovo are expected to start in 2004.
45. Programme 3.3.3 Emergency Response Operations: this programme covers FAO’s response to emergency situations through its Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division (TCE) the activities of which involve: (i) immediate relief, through the provision of agricultural essentials such as seeds, tools, fertilizers, fishing gear, livestock and veterinary supplies to permit immediate resumption of basic food production; (ii) early rehabilitation, through projects directed at seed multiplication, tools production, income-generating projects, vegetable production for local markets, etc; and (iii) technical advice and coordination, particularly with regard to NGOs and other UN system organizations involved in agricultural assistance.
46. During the 2002-03 biennium, in response to the crisis which unfolded in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (including the Kosovo Province) and the FYR of Macedonia and to natural calamities (e.g. prolonged drought in the Caucasian countries, frost, floods), TCE implemented emergency assistance projects in Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro and the FYR of Macedonia totalling some US$15 million, of which TCP provided US$2 million and the remaining was provided by external donors. In addition, during the same period, TCE participated in the preparation and issuance of UN Consolidated Appeals for Southeastern Europe, North Caucasus, Western Georgia and Chechnya and Neighbouring Republic.
47. This programme seeks to meet the evolving needs of Members and to employ innovative approaches and modalities to achieve an enhanced impact of technical and economic cooperation among developing countries and countries in transition. The programme also covers cooperation with NGOs and other civil society organizations in follow-up to the WFS:fyl. FAO’s cooperation with European regional and national NGOs has increased during the period under review and the involvement of national NGOs in project implementation has also substantially increased.
48. Although the share of agriculture to the overall economy will further decline, agriculture will remain a substantial part of most economies in the Balkans and the CIS countries. Activities must therefore be commensurate to strengthen the profitability of agricultural production and the potential of non-farm income generation opportunities in rural areas. Therefore FAO activities in the future will focus on rural development. Special attention will also be given to the emerging issues, e.g. organic farming; biotechnology and biosafety. Member countries are invited to express their views on the activities to implement, and the assistance FAO should provide in the coming years.
1 The CEI is a regional forum for cooperation and consultation among and between its members. The CEI has seventeen member countries (mostly Central and Eastern European) including Italy and Austria. Italy is the main contributor to the organization's budget.