FAO holds Workshop on Investment Formulation for Central Asian Countries

In October 2009 in Ankara, Turkey, FAO’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia (REU) and Subregional Office for Central Asia (SEC), organized a workshop with FAO’s Investment Centre Division on the “Formulation of Investment Projects in Agriculture and Rural Development”. It was the second of this kind held by FAO, following the workshop in Budapest in December 2008 organized for 11 countries in the REU region.

Recognizing the importance of proper analysis and development of public investment projects to meet the objectives of national development plans and strategies, the workshop focused on all stages of the project cycle. The approaches used were based on best practices and standard requirements by international financing institutions working in partnership with FAO, such as the World Bank, EBRD, IFAD and Asian Development Bank.

A total of 23 participants from the seven countries of the SEC region (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) attended the workshop. Preference was given to candidates from planning offices in their Ministry of Agriculture whose current work includes liaising with donor agencies and managing or carrying out project formulation and design and implementation as part of their duties. Other participants included FAO staff from REU/SEC, headquarters and field offices. Ms S. Abdysheva (SEC) and Mr J.G. Nagy (SEU) coordinated the workshop, assisted by REU/SEC staff Mmes A. Vigh and C. Salur. Messrs P. Lucani and F. Vita, retired FAO experts, prepared the workshop material and conducted the training sessions.

The workshop was opened by Mr C. Riemenschneider, Director, FAO Investment Centre, who highlighted the importance of agricultural investment to cope with present demand and future trends in global food supply, and Mr M. Sinaceur, Subregional Representative for Central Asia who outlined the Centre’s commitment to build up capacity in SEC countries for investment planning, formulation, implementation and evaluation. Mr C. Gregorio, Centre Service Chief for the Eurasia region, spoke to participants on the work of the Investment Centre in Central Asian countries.

Participants were guided through the full project cycle from why investing in agricultural development is a priority need, to the planning framework for project identification, preparation, appraisal, implementation and evaluation. In practical exercises, participants reviewed case studies and developed draft investment projects and cost estimates, and carried out economic and financial analysis of sample operations. Working group facilitators were Mmes G. Sultanly, I. Punda, A. Forrester and S. Abdysheva. Guest lecturers, Messrs A. Gulliver, W. Klemm, and M. Guadagni, covered the Centre’s RuralInvest toolkit for formulation and evaluation of small to medium-scale investment projects; irrigation planning issues and lessons learnt; and climate change and carbon credit projects.

Afterwards, participants indicated that a similar workshop in their own countries or on a subregional basis would be of great interest to their governments. For future workshops, it was felt additional practical exercises and case studies would improve the training. Everyone agreed more time should be devoted for interaction between participants and discussion on their country priorities. Keen interest was shown by the participants for both financial and economic analysis methodologies, and for RuralInvest. It is envisaged that in 2010 and 2011, more workshops of this type will be given in most, if not all FAO regions and subregions and repeated thereafter when necessary.