New joint initiative for mountain value chains springs into action


On 21 September, the first meeting was organized in the framework of “Enhancing agri-food value chains to increase resilience of mountain communities,” a new joint initiative between the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP), and Slow Food International (SFI). The initiative combines the efforts of the GEF SGP and the Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) initiative with the common goal of increasing the resilience of mountain communities through the improvement of local economies and livelihoods by strengthening agricultural food value chains. The collaboration was announced on 11 December 2018 on the occasion of International Mountain Day and, after having completed the required arrangements, is officially ready to start.

The opening virtual meeting was held between partners from FAO, MPS, SFI and SGP. In her opening remarks, Yoko Watanabe, Global Manager of the SGP, stated, "This is an opportunity for key partners working on food value chains to bring their strengths. SGP brings in grants, working directly with the communities and building capacities; the Mountain Partnership brings in global as well as local support; and Slow Food provides cutting edge technologies and expertise. This is an exciting proposition for strengthening our work on the ground."

The next step of the initiative involves circulating a specific call for proposals targeting small-holder producers and communities living in mountain areas. The first call will include five countries with wide geographical spread: Guatemala, Lesotho, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Rwanda.

Grants will be awarded to projects focusing on the improvement of the value chain of products that are produced and processed in mountains. Projects with a high involvement of women, youth or indigenous peoples will be prioritized.

Giorgio Grussu, MPS Project Manager and Coordinator of the MPP initiative, stated, "What has been working in the MPP initiative is the networking of the producers. It will be important when we start this new collaboration to select grantees willing and interested in joining and strengthening the network."

Federico Mattei, Project Development and International Relations, SFI, added, "The selected producers will have to take charge and make connections to ensure there is a long-term sustainability to this project."

Projects selected through this joint initiative will be funded by SGP. Additionally, all selected projects will benefit from technical support, provided by the MPS and SFI throughout the duration of the project, to strengthen value chains of agri-food products, including on product certification, marketing and labelling.

Sharing her hopes for the initiative and for the future, Yuka Makino, MPS Coordinator and Team Leader, Water and Mountains Team, Forestry Division, FAO, expressed in her closing remarks, "This is our opportunity to set the foundations for something bigger. It will be a learning process, but we can expand our dream and vision of bringing all the mountain producers together around the world."

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