FAO’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia strives to ensure food security in a highly diverse region where political and economic transition has had a profound impact on agricultural systems.
The region’s history, economy and geography demand unique policy and development solutions – to eradicate food insecurity and rural poverty, and ensure that agriculture contributes its full potential to the national economy and well-being of each country. With these needs in mind, Member Governments at the Regional Conference for Europe in April 2014 endorsed two regional initiatives:
Empowering smallholders and family farms
As economic reforms in the 1990s shifted land ownership into the hands of private smallholders, family farmers became the predominant source of agricultural production in the region. To address the absence of well-developed institutional support, FAO is implementing a Regional Initiative on Empowering Smallholders and Family Farms for Improved Rural Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction. The objective is to empower local governments and family farmers with the tools to effectively manage natural resources and farm efficiently, sustainably and inclusively.
Improved agri-food trade
As the region seeks to expand local trade, increase political and economic ties to the European Union or join the World Trade Organization, countries must integrate their trade systems with new markets and comply with new regulatory standards. Regional and global integration is imperative as the region becomes an increasingly important supplier of agricultural goods to international markets. FAO’s Regional Initiative on Agri-Food Trade and Regional Integration helps countries understand trade implications, implement trade policy and engage in trade agreements.
Long-term regional priorities
The Member Governments have endorsed these six ongoing regional priorities for Europe and Central Asia:
1. Strengthening food security and nutrition
While food demand is on the rise across the entire region, undernourishment persists in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Access to and availability of food and improving nutrition education are a top priority.
2. Policy advice to governments in support of sustainable intensification for small holders
Policy reform is essential to achieving food security in a new social and economic landscape. Member governments seek advice on investment, trade and education policy to develop an enabling environment for sustainable development and protection of natural resources.
3. Natural resource management, including climate change mitigation and adaptation
Environmental threats such as climate change and loss of biodiversity put both agriculture and livelihoods at risk. But farmers across the region are also part of the solution when they embrace smart resource management and sustainable agricultural practices.
4. Control of animal disease, plant pests and food safety hazards
From gypsy moths to African Swine Fever, pests and diseases respect no boundaries. International coordination and well trained national personnel are crucial for preventing and controlling outbreaks, and ensuring that food is safe.
5. Policy and institutional support for entry of Member States into regional and global trade, standard-setting and organizations of regional economic cooperation
In an increasingly globalized world, engaging with both neighbouring and distant countries is both economic reality and opportunity. Setting higher food safety standards, negotiating trade agreements and joining regional organizations such as the European Union or the World Trade Organization can open doors to new markets.
6. Supporting and building global and regional public goods through applied research in the areas of food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry
Agricultural innovation is critical in the drive to eradicate poverty and guarantee food security around the world. A key role of FAO is to promote new research, monitor progress and share the knowledge generated.
In each country, FAO assistance is guided by a Country Programme Framework, developed collaboratively by FAO and the national government and signed by both parties.
The entire work programme of the Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia reflects and reinforces FAO’s five global strategic objectives: to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition worldwide; to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability; to reduce rural poverty; to enable inclusive and efficient food systems; and to increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises.