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Nancy Aburto: FAO commends Kyrgyzstan for its efforts to improve the nutritional status of school-age children

Photo: ©FAO

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan– Nancy Aburto, Deputy Director of the FAO Food and Nutrition Division (ESN), paid a short working visit to Kyrgyzstan. A main objective of her visit was to discuss cooperation between FAO and the Kyrgyz Republic in the field of nutrition.


During her two-day visit, the Deputy Director held a series of meetings with senior representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic, as well as key international development partners of FAO and civil society organizations.


Mrs Aburto briefed the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Samat Nasirdinov, and the Deputy Minister of Health, Bubujan Arykbayeva, on FAO’s Global Nutrition Strategy, which was endorsed in 2021. She also discussed FAO’s role and mandate on nutrition, which encompass strengthening data and evidence on diet and nutrition, supporting policy-making in member states, facilitating knowledge and experience sharing, capacity strengthening and supporting commitments to achieve healthy diets.


As she explained, “FAO’s mission in nutrition is to tackle malnutrition in all its forms by accelerating impactful policies and actions across agrifood systems, to enable healthy diets for all”.


The parties discussed the food security and nutrition situation in the country and identified potential entry points for enhanced and strengthened cooperation. In particular, innovation to reduce food loss and waste – one of the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals – was identified as an area of focus, with approaches including packaging that can extend the shelf life of food.


Nancy Aburto also met with the FAO-Kyrgyzstan Country Office team and was briefed on programmes and projects currently underway by Dinara Rakhmanova, Assistant Representative of FAO in the Kyrgyz Republic.


FAO has enjoyed a partnership with the Kyrgyz Republic since 1993, when the country joined the Organization. In 2009,  the Country Office was opened. FAO assistance spans the breadth of the agriculture sector, and includes crop, livestock and fisheries projects, support to sustainable land and forest management in the face of climate change, and disaster risk management.


As part of her visit, the Deputy Director of the FAO Food and Nutrition Division also visited two schools located in villages in the east of the Chu region of Kyrgyzstan. With the support of FAO, orchards have been planted in the grounds of the schools. The schoolchildren take care of the trees, and the harvest has improved and diversified the lunch menu with school canteens now serving preserves made from of the picked apples and berries.


School meals play a central role in the daily diet of pupils in Kyrgyzstan, and it is vital that they help meet the children’s essential vitamin and micronutrient needs. Nancy Aburto was interested in Kyrgyzstan’s experience in developing sample menus that take into account the nutritional requirements of children, local traditions, preferences and food availability in the region, a practice that supplements the existing practice of daily sampling for calorie content and compliance with food safety requirements.


As she noted, “We highly appreciate the efforts of Kyrgyzstan to improve the diet of school-age children. FAO plans to continue to support government and institutions to provide healthier school meals for children and adolescents, which means a step towards the realization of their right to food”.


The school teams and parents likewise expressed their gratitude to the Deputy Director for the support and contributions received from FAO for the sustainable development of school feeding programmes.