FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO: With joint actions, we can recover from the current crisis

A wide range of actors were brought together by FAO’s virtual regional dialogue on scaling up the response of food and agriculture sectors to the COVID-19 crisis with the ultimate goal of protecting livelihoods and transforming food systems. As a baseline, the UN Agency presented its Regional Response Plan providing evidence-based solutions through immediate and medium-term actions, since the virus, as well as its consequences, have not yet fully hit food systems in Europe and Central Asia.

Prospects for cereal production are generally positive, but prolonged logistics, trade, and market disruptions continue to challenge food distribution and agricultural production. Potato and flour prices, in addition to some other foods, peaked in Central Asia and the Caucasus. These are just a few highlights from the findings of FAO’s socio-economic assessments covering the last six-month period, aiming to support informed and targeted decisions.

To mitigate the socio-economic and environmental implications in the food and agriculture sector, and safeguard the sector’s development and resilience, as well as to uphold progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, FAO urges for holistic and complementary interventions to be undertaken.

“Only through joint actions and investments can we recover from the current crisis,” said FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative Vladimir Rakhmanin. “This regional dialogue event creates the environment for our current and perspective partners to make the first steps.”

FAO identified six priorities, setting up the Regional Response Programme, where interventions would be most urgent: data for decision-making; economic inclusion and social protection to reduce poverty; trade and food safety standards; boosting smallholder resilience for recovery; preventing the next zoonotic pandemic; and food systems transformation.

“According to our estimates, USD 30 million of support would be needed immediately to strengthen the resilience of the food sector in response to the economic crisis in the region,” added Raimund Jehle, FAO Regional Programme Leader.

Therefore, FAO’s Response and Recovery Programme for Europe and Central Asia can guide joint action on addressing urgent support gaps, especially in the most affected countries in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans.

“The programme will, with time, evolve in line with the changes in the circumstances and needs and based on the latest available evidence on the implications,” Jehle noted.

This high-level event follows the global dialogue launched by the FAO Director-General on 14 July to present and discuss FAO’s Comprehensive Response and Recovery Programme to COVID-19.

The recording of the FAO Regional High-level Dialogue for Europe and Central Asia can accessed on YouTube.

7 October 2020, Budapest, Hungary