FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

FAO launches the Global Action on One Country One Priority Product in the Near East and North Africa

20 June 2022, Cairo – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the Near East and North Africa has launched today the implementation of the Global Action on Green Development of Special Agricultural Products: One Country One Priority Product (OCOP) in the region.

“The key to solving many of the challenges in this region is to move towards the sustainable development of our agrifood sector, to produce more quality food in a more efficient way, to improve livelihoods for food producing communities, and at the same time to restore our fragile ecosystems and preserve water and biodiversity,” Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa said during the launch event.

The OCOP initiative, which was announced globally by FAO Director General in 2021, will support countries in their efforts to transform national agrifood systems towards more resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness and efficiency. The country-led approach of the initiative relies on developing the value chains for special agricultural products (SAPs) with unique quality and untapped potential for production and market growth. The interventions will aim to support small and family farmers’ access to high value markets, generate income for communities with a focus on women and youth, optimize the use of natural resources and energy, and improve the nutrition and food security of the population.

A central element of the Global Action is to promote and scale up innovation, partnership and exchange knowledge on greening production, storage, processing and market within and among countries.

The initiative aims to optimize production and market systems of SAPs, minimize post-harvest losses and food waste, maximize climate adaptation and use of the climate smart technologies and increase their direct or indirect contribution in improving nutrition and food security.

In the run up to the launch, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen have expressed interest in joining the Global Action and submitted their priority products to be considered in the implementation phase.

“The main objective for organizing the OCOP regional launch event is to get every Member on board and actively engaged in the OCOP, leaving no one behind,” stated Beth Bechdol, FAO Deputy Director-General, as she gave her remarks virtually from FAO’s headquarters in Rome.

Ministers of Agriculture from the aforementioned countries expressed their commitment to the OCOP initiative and highlighted how it aligns with their national agendas and objective of transforming agrifood systems in their countries.  

An interactive panel discussion involving representatives of international financial institutions, regional bodies and research institutions identified some key entry points to use the enabling power of investment, policy and partnership to ensure that the interventions in countries happen at necessary scale and speed towards achieving the SDGs.

FAO is planning a regional Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) to enable the seven countries to conduct an in-depth value chain analysis, which will act as a foundation for the development of detailed investment strategies and action plans. The process will support the establishment of partnerships through dialogues and engagement with resource partners and the private sector for upgrading the value chains to reach their full potential.