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FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Background of the initiative

The Initiative is primarily built upon (i) the UN International Year of Family Farming (2014); (ii) the “FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests” in the context of National Food Security; (iii) the established partnership in the European region; (vi) the priority working areas of the Country programming frameworks of the targeted countries.
The Regional Initiative provides an excellent opportunity for the creation of a region-specific strategic approach, which builds upon the regional priorities, specificities and development needs, as defined at the 28th European Regional Conference and in the new Country Programming Frameworks.

The Initiative is managed by the Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia and will benefit from a close collaboration of the Subregional Office for Central Asia and the relevant country offices in some of the countries where we implement projects as well as benefiting from inputs and support from various Headquarter’ departments and thus ensuring a close alignment with the Strategic Objective Framework.

Countries where we work:
Work under this Initiative targets those countries where it can achieve the greatest impact on rural poverty and the problems of smallholders. Emphasis is given to countries where there is a substantial FAO presence on the ground. A sequential approach is used, building on ongoing activities in the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Macedonia, and Tajikistan.

Key achievements:
Important results of the Initiative in the first year of implementation include the promotion of innovative practices, considerable capacity development of governments and local institutions, improved policies, and raised awareness. Here are a few highlights:

  • development of innovative practices for sustainable agriculture production in integrated pest management, conservation of plant genetic resources and application of farmer field schools in Armenia, Moldova and Tajikistan. Key deliverables included training manuals on small-scale rainbow trout farming and on carp polyculture for the region.
  • strengthened capacities for governments and local institutions in areas such as animal disease prevention and control in Armenia, and sustainable crop production in Kyrgyzstan. Armenia and Georgia improved their capacities to design and implement policies and regulatory frameworks for plant and animal health and food safety and quality, specifically the Pesticide Residue Monitoring Laboratory in Armenia and the National Food Agency in Georgia.
  • at the regional level, policy advice and capacity building support on promoting equitable access to natural resources provided to over 100 government officials, land administration experts and representatives of NGOs from 27 countries, at the 6th International LANDNET conference.
  • agrarian reforms supported on policy level in Albania, Georgia, North Macedonia and Montenegro, through development of their national strategies for agriculture and rural development. More streamlined policies in the Western Balkan countries were documented through the publication “Agricultural Policy and European Integration in South-eastern Europe.” In Moldova, a Land Code policy promoting equitable access and the sustainable management of productive natural resources was drafted.
  • Inclusiveness and efficiency in agri-food chains were enhanced through two regional workshops. Awareness was raised through a key deliverable on gender mainstreaming – the publication Rural Women in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – and Country Gender Assessments for Georgia and Albania, including a toolkit on statistics and gender in rural areas. 
  • partnerships established and fostered for rural poverty reduction in the region. Examples include: cooperation with the Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group; ongoing collaboration with the European Commission and other resource partners, such as Austria, Turkey and Switzerland; participation in LANDNET, an informal network dealing with land tenure; participation in the Gender Thematic Group of the United Nations Country Teams, coordinated by UN WOMEN; round tables organized in Turkey and Kyrgyzstan to establish dialogue with civil society; partnerships facilitated among UN WOMEN, World Food Programme and FAO through the UN Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women, which is being implemented in Kyrgyzstan.
  • promotion of aquaculture and culture based fisheries in Tajikistan and alternative use of water resources in Armenia.
  • development of farmer field schools in Kyrgyzstan to promote modern crop management techniques.
  • enhancement rural services such as advisory services, and supporting development of a national land consolidation programme in North Macedonia.
  • support the rehabilitation of seed production systems, and of Integrated Pest Management practices for smallholders, through expert consultations in Georgia.
  • strengthen cooperation among farmers and improve agricultural extension services in Georgia.
  • development of a national Rural Development Strategy with the involvement of the Ministry of Agriculture for improved policy-making, monitoring& evaluation and implementation processes in Georgia.