FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Sustainable and Inclusive Agrifood Value Chains

Agrifood systems in NENA are characterized by increasingly degraded natural resources and vulnerability to climate change, high level of food loss and waste, import dependency, conflict and rapid population growth and urbanization. 

An increase of international food prices, coupled with the economic slowdown and supply chain disruption as a result of the pandemic has all exacerbated the vulnerability of value chains in the region. These have implications on functioning, length, efficiency and sustainability of the agrifood value chains, which are the engine of livelihood in rural areas and provide healthy diets for urban consumers in NENA.

Increasing the value added to the agrifood products through better post-harvest practices, storage, logistics, processing, packaging, distribution and food service activities is an important driver for the NENA region’s economy. 

However, agrifood value chain development in the region is facing many barriers to fulfill their potential including but not limited to capacity, enabling environment, governance, infrastructure, and policies conducive to sustainability and growth. In addition, elevated risks, a direct outcome of uncertainty, have negatively affected investment in agriculture and have limited access to finance for value chain actors in many countries in NENA.     

Our work at FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa (FAO-RNE) on sustainable agrifood value chain development in NENA  aims at making the value chains more inclusive, resilient and sustainable. The work will bring greater alignment between sustainable value chain development and transformation of agrifood systems, facilitating joint action, harmonization of approaches in the region, and speeding up progress towards achieving SDG 12.3. 

To achieve these objectives, FAO – 1) undertakes holistic analyses of value chains to identify root causes of unsustainable practices; 2) prioritizes leverage points and address critical constraints; 3) develops integrated interventions and solutions through collaboration across disciplines and sectors, and within and between countries; 4) designs and implements strategies, and action plan to upgrade the agifood value chains.


FAO supports countries through building technical and institutional capacities for agrifood value chain actors in both public and private sectors, in increasing access to finance, market opportunities (domestic and export), better coordination and effective partnership, improved sustainability of practices and business models across various agrifood sectors (e.g. horticulture, livestock, etc.).  

Facts and Figures
  • 141 million people experienced moderate or severe food insecurity and 69 million were undernourished in the Arab region in 2020

  • The NENA region’s annual growth in value-added in agriculture was only 0.6% between 2011 and 2020 as compared to the world average of 2.6%

  • 11% of food produced in NENA is lost between farm and market including the wholesale market.

  • The NENA region imported more than three times as many crops and livestock products in value as it exported in 2020

  • Unemployment rate in NENA was 11.5% in 2021 as compared to the world average of 6.2%

  • 80% of the NENA region’s agricultural production comes from small-scale family farmers.

Working Towards

Four Betters 

  • Better production: BP1, BP2, BP3, BP4 and BP5
  • Better life: BL1, BL2 and BL5
  • Better environment: BE1, BE3, and BE4
  • Better nutrition: BN1 and BN5 


SDG 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17


Maryam Rezaei

Agro-Industry Officer, FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa