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.
As countries seek to expand local trade, increase political and economic ties to the European Union or join the World Trade Organization, they must integrate their trade systems with new markets and comply with new standards. Regional and global integration is imperative as the region becomes an increasingly important supplier of agricultural goods to international markets. This initiative helps countries understand trade implications, implement trade policy and engage in trade agreements.