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FAO and Tajikistan sign cooperation agreement

Greater efficiency and sustainability in Tajikistan’s agriculture sector are the focus of a new cooperation agreement between FAO and the Government of Tajikistan.

The FAO Country Programming Framework for Tajikistan, signed by both parties this week, outlines three main areas of work for the period 2016-2017: food and nutrition security and food safety, natural resource management and climate change resilience, and overall productivity of the agricultural sector.

“Cooperation between Tajikistan and FAO has been ongoing since country joined the Organization in 1995,” said Viorel Gutu, FAO Representative in Tajikistan. “More recently, cooperation has shifted to a focus on development interventions to build a sustainable agriculture sector and food and nutrition security.”

Food security
As a first step, FAO will work with the Ministry of Agriculture to boost its capacity for formulating a legal framework and institutional structures for enhanced food security.
Managerial support will be provided to farmers, food-processing companies and government institutions, with the aim of developing a more inclusive and efficient agricultural value chain.

An FAO project entitled “Strengthening Institutions and Capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and State Veterinary Inspection Service for Policy Formulation” will assist the government in implementing the country’s Agrarian Reform Programme. Financed by the European Union with a budget of EUR 5 million, the project will help build new skills for policy making, financial and policy analysis, disease surveillance, and data management and analysis, leading to more appropriate agriculture policies through effective regulations and coherent incentives for managing Tajik agriculture.

Natural resources, resilience to climate change
Tajikistan is considered the most climate-vulnerable country in Europe and Central Asia, and the degree of land degradation and deforestation is cause for deep concern. Unsustainable agricultural practices and poor management of natural resources are recognized as driving salinization and desertification of soils and land.

The new agreement calls for stronger national policies to protect soils, promote gender-sensitive practices, improve resource management, and boost the agricultural sector’s resilience to climate change.

One FAO project aims to promote and integrate conservation agriculture in the country’s policies. This is a modern crop management technique and core element of what FAO has termed “Climate Smart Agriculture” – tested and validated in farmers’ fields under irrigated and rainfed conditions. As a result, the technical capacity of 600 farmers and agricultural specialists – of whom about 45 percent were women – was improved through conducting formal and on-the-job training.

Productive and competitive agriculture
The majority of Tajikistan’s population lives in rural areas and works in agriculture, and smallholders produce 80 percent of the agriculture’s output. Poverty is more common among rural households. With this in mind, FAO and Tajikistan plan to work on improving productivity by establishing strong institutions, increasing national knowledge and capacity, and creating a policy and regulatory environment that empowers smallholders.

Also falling under this priority is a project entitled “Programme to improve national and regional locust management in Caucasus and Central Asia,” financed by the Government of Japan in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Improved capacity for locust management is the goal of a three-year, US$ 5 million project designed to develop national capacities and encourage regional cooperation. Regional experts will have regular exchange of information and joint activities including cross-border surveys. A regional training-of-trainers programme on locust management has been instituted, along with development of practical guidelines on reducing risk to human health and the environment from locust control operations.

15 April, 2016, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

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