FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Central Asian ministers ready to help farmers withstand climate change

Smallholder farmers need to become more prepared for and resilient to weather extremes and climate shocks, and further support should be granted to them, concluded the virtual meeting of Agricultural Ministers of five Central Asian countries, convened by FAO.

The impact of climate change is seen everywhere, yet often, the most fragile are often the worst hit. For farmers, especially for smallholders, favourable weather is the main prerequisite for a good harvest and healthy livestock that ensures the survival of their families and everyone depending on the food they produce.

Sometimes, adaptation and preparedness requires new, innovative approaches or traditional methods, while in other cases, these can be achieved through knowledge transfer from other countries. Dialogue and collaboration are key for all of the possible solutions to this transboundary threat.

“Agriculture proved its stability and strength during the difficult times of the pandemic, so we have to make every effort to ensure its future growth and development,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia. “By joint efforts and the same vigour with which we have been countering COVID-19, we can support smallholder farmers who are the backbone of agriculture and rural areas.”

The meeting, the fourth at this level, was this time chaired by the Minister of Agriculture of Tajikistan, Sulaimon Ziyozoda, and was also attended by Aidarbek Saparov, Kazakhstan’s Vice-Minister of Agriculture, Askarbek Zhanybekov, Kyrgyzstan’s Minister of Agriculture, Food Industry, and Melioration,  and Jamshid Khodjaev, Uzbekistan’s Minister of Agriculture, as well as representatives of other UN agencies and international financial institutions.

ekistan’s Minister of Agriculture, as well as representatives of other UN agencies and international financial institutions.

The ministers have looked into ways of developing better public policies, programmes, regulatory frameworks, and investment plans that help the region’s smallholders cope with and manage climate risks. Potential solutions include crop and livestock insurance policies compensating farmers when they suffer losses. However, this type of insurance does not apply in the case of natural disasters.

Alternatively, governments can build early-warning systems to help farmers prepare for weather shocks, and strengthen veterinary services and animal disease control measures to thwart disease outbreaks. Well-constructed and maintained infrastructure can also help against floods and mudflows. Governments can also promote research on drought-tolerant seeds and livestock breeds. Another tool available for decision makers, is shock responsive social protection.

On the other hand, farmers can protect themselves by diversifying the crops they grow, as well as their sources of income. Sustainable farming practices aimed at enhancing agricultural resilience can also help protect rural livelihoods.

“Rising temperatures around the world and changing climate are having serious impacts on agriculture, affecting ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society,” highlighted Minister Ziyozoda. “Crop and livestock problems are aggravating, agricultural land and water resources are depleted, and food security suffers.”

The meeting was especially timely as Central Asian countries are currently developing their national action plans addressing climate change, and are planning to submit (or have already submitted) their revised nationally determined contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) highlighting their national strategies and goals for climate change adaptation.

2 November 2021, Budapest, Hungary/Dushanbe, Tajikistan