One Country One Priority Product (OCOP)


Leveraging Science and Innovation for OCOP implementation in Asia and the Pacific

Speakers at the special event on the FAO One Country One Priority Product (OCOP) initiative at the 37th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

©FAO/Hasan Lokuge

19/02/2024 Colombo, Sri Lanka: Science and innovative technologies can speed up efficient, resilient, sustainable and inclusive development of value chains of geographically-specific special agricultural products (SAPs), helping bring about much-needed transformation of agrifood systems, enhancing smallholder incomes, ministers of three Asia-Pacific countries told the biennial FAO regional conference here today.

Addressing a plenary session at the ongoing 37th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific,  Younten Phuntsho, Bhutan’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, emphasized the “vital role of science, innovation, and technology in enhancing the lives and livelihoods of farming communities, aimed at ensuring the availability of nutritious food for our people”.

The minister was speaking at a special event on the FAO flagship initiative One Country One Priority Product (OCOP) that is addressing the current and emerging challenges of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition and contributing to the development of smallholders and family farms. The OCOP initiative is rooted in national and regional priority programmes and supported through the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A focus of OCOP implementation in Asia and the Pacific region is building collaboration and strengthening partnerships with and among Members.

The global, country-led OCOP initiative is helping develop sustainable value chains for SAPs which are crops with unique qualities linked to specific locales, farming practices and cultural heritages. SAPs have special tastes and high nutritional value but are yet to be grown and marketed to their full potential.

In an opening presentation, Prof Chuang Liu, Director, Global Change Research Data Publishing & Repository, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGSNRR-CAS), told the conference how the innovative Geographical Indication, Environment and Sustainability (GIES) tool developed by the Institute has helped bring about a socioeconomic transformation across rural China while protecting the environment.

The Bhutan minister told the conference that since joining the OCOP initiative in 2021 and identifying Quinoa as its SAP, his country has made “good progress in the development of its value chain including production, distribution, and consumption” and this has high potential “to address nutrition security challenges and reduce reliance on cereal imports, a significant expenditure for our country.”

“Through strategic investments and partnerships with stakeholders, we aim to realize the full potential of the OCOP initiative, benefiting thousands of households and fostering employment opportunities in the agrifood sector. We are targeting to invest close to $15 million as part of initial intervention, while a larger area is aimed for upscaling, gradually,” he added.

In his statement to the Special Event, Bedu Ram Bhusal, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Nepal said cultivation of large Cardamom, his country’s special agricultural product, of which Nepal is the world’s largest producer, is highly remunerative with a Benefit Cost Ratio that is “very high compared with other cereal crops”.

Large cardamom is an important cash crop for Nepal and accounts for 5 percent of total trade. “It is envisaged that the cultivation of large cardamom, adopting appropriate climate-resilient practices and management procedures, will bring a significant change in the sustainability of agro ecologically sound farming systems,” the minister said.

In his statement to the event, Tomasi Tunabuna, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Waterways, Fiji, said his country’s selection of turmeric as its SAP aims to “not only elevate its turmeric industry but also contribute to broader goals of environmental sustainability, economic development, and agricultural resilience in the Pacific sub-region”.

“The selection of turmeric as a priority product is not merely an economic decision but a holistic approach to leverage the unique characteristics of turmeric cultivation for the overall betterment of Fiji. It integrates economic growth with social inclusivity, cultural preservation, and environmental sustainability, symbolising the spirit of the One Country One Product initiative in fostering well-rounded and sustainable development,” the minister said.

In her closing remarks, FAO Assistant Director-General, Beth Crawford noted that science and innovation can help “transform agrifood systems towards better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind”.

She highlighted the “pioneering work on the application of the cutting-edge open science technology Geographical Indications, Environment and Sustainability” by IGSNRR-CAS. “The Institute’s successful application of the technology to special agricultural products originating in diverse geographical, biological and social environments has shown its tremendous potential for the One Country, One Priority Product initiative in Asia and the Pacific by establishing traceability for special agricultural products connecting consumers, producers and the producing environment and helping enhance access of special agricultural products to high end markets,” she added.