FAO in Armenia

In Armenia, FAO workshop puts food security, nutrition and social protection in focus

©FAO / Gor Kroyan

A three-day high-level workshop on the complex and interlinked issues of food security, nutrition and social protection concluded today in Tsaghkadzor. Key government officials discussed developments and implementation of respective national programmes in Armenia.

The workshop was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in close collaboration with the Government of Armenia, and supported by the Eurasian Centre for Food Security under the Moscow State University.  

The training, held from 6 to 8 June, aimed at increasing the understanding of food security, nutrition and social protection concepts in accordance with international standards, with the ultimate goal of improving policy decision-making and effective communication for public awareness raising. It also aimed at expanding the knowledge and strengthening the monitoring and evaluation skills of parties involved in the implementation of food security and nutrition related programmes.

“The Government considers programmes that integrate social protection with food security and nutrition very important and is very willing to learn from this experience when it comes to poverty reduction, and to expand when possible,” said Zhanna Andreasyan, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs of Armenia. “We are currently in the process of reviewing the existing system of state allowance, and one of the options we are considering is to implement a programme that has this “Cash+” model which allows families to receive more comprehensive support and to truly create and sustain a stable source of income.”

A decreasing trend in the prevalence of undernourishment in Armenia was reported by FAO’s latest Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition for Europe and Central Asia. The indicator has declined from 7.8 in 2004-2006 to 4.3 in 2015-2017. 

Despite the obvious improvement in availability, access to food is still critical for some households in Armenia. Food insecurity increased sharply following the global economic crisis. An estimated 16 percent of households were classified as food insecure in 2015 – the number has almost doubled since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Food and nutrition security and poverty reduction is therefore high on the common agenda of FAO and Armenia. In relation with agricultural national development plans and strategies as well as FAO global regional objectives, this issue is one out of the three priority areas of the current FAO-Armenia Country Programming Framework. The Government of Armenia has already adopted a set of documents reflecting the country’s agricultural development priorities, including food security and nutrition.

“Food security is of strategic importance for the Government of Armenia, and the Ministry of Agriculture has developed several policy initiatives aimed at ensuring the food security in the country,” noted Ashkhen Shirvanyan, head of Food Safety department of the Ministry of Agriculture. “We are glad that the workshop has presented the opportunity to get acquainted with the FAO approach on food security, social protection and rural development. “  

More than 35 government officials, representatives from line ministries and relevant agencies, key national experts and other interested parties attended. 

The event offered participants a unique opportunity to identify regional and country specific food security, nutrition and social protection priorities, and learn how to effectively articulate them when working on relevant strategies. Relevant public policy measures, approaches, methods and tools were part of the agenda as well, helping assess food security and nutrition related risks while developing relevant policies and programs.  

The event is part of the FAO project “Developing capacity for strengthening food security and nutrition in selected countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia,” funded by the Russian Federation. The project is to strategically mediate the challenges in the country and promote cross-sectoral collaboration by providing adequate capacity to effectively pursue and manage coherence between agriculture, nutrition, health, education and social protection sectors.