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Uzbekistan-FAO Cooperation: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to promote food security. The goal of the Organization is to ensure food security for all and to promote the constant access of the population to high quality food. With 195 members (194 countries and the European Union), FAO operates in more than 130 countries around the world. FAO pays particular attention to gender equality and inclusion in its work. Uzbekistan became a member of FAO on October 2, 2001, and since 2014, FAO has opened its country office. In line with the national sustainable development priorities, FAO is committed to supporting the government of Uzbekistan in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and helping the country achieve sustainable food systems across the entire agrifood value chain.

The Ministry of Agriculture is FAO's designated national partner in Uzbekistan. To date, 33 projects worth $15.03 million have been implemented jointly with FAO (including 9 regional projects worth $9.72 million and 24 national projects worth $5.31 million). The largest of them are “Promotion of water saving technologies in the Uzbek water scarce area of the transboundary Podshaota river basin”, “Institutional capacity building to develop organic agriculture and to promote Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) in Uzbekistan”, “Integrated forest land and tree resources assessment”, “ Demonstration of diversification and sustainable crop production intensification” and“Support to improvement of the national seed, plant variety protection and phytosanitary legislation”.

Currently, FAO is implementing 31 projects in Uzbekistan worth $51.91 million (of which 16 are regional for $35.25 million and 15 national for $16.66 million). These include the regional projects “Integrated natural resources management in drought-prone and salt-affected agricultural production landscapes in Central Asia and Turkey (CACILM2)” and “Smart Farming for Future Generation”, as well as national projects “Food systems, land use and restoration impact program in Uzbekistan”, “Sustainable management of forests in mountain and valley areas in Uzbekistan” and “Sustainable forest and rangelands management in the dryland ecosystems of Uzbekistan”.

The ongoing projects cover areas such as agricultural development, sustainable management of natural resources, land use, crop production, animal husbandry, pest control, forestry and sustainable pasture management, sustainable soil management, as well as combating climate change and its impacts.

The ongoing projects cover areas such as agricultural development, sustainable management of natural resources, land use, crop production, animal husbandry, pest control, forestry and sustainable pasture management, sustainable soil management, as well as combating climate change and its consequences.

In addition, 4 projects worth $41.3 million are being worked out (of which 1 regional for $30 million and 3 national for $11.3 million), including such important areas of development as biodiversity conservation, sound management of chemicals and waste in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, pandemic preparedness and response through One Health approaches in Central Asia.

In November 2020, Uzbekistan was elected for the first time to chair the 32nd FAO Regional Conference for Europe and Central Asia for a two-year period. As part of the chairmanship, 12 high-level meetings were held, and participation in 5 conferences was also taken. Proposals were developed that were reflected in the decisions of the FAO Council, as well as in the results of the UN Summit on Food Systems.

In this regard, the Decree of the President of Uzbekistan “On measures to expand and deepen cooperation of the Republic of Uzbekistan with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development and the UN World Food Program” dated December 15, 2020 was adopted. According to the document, the head of the diplomatic mission of Uzbekistan in Italy was appointed as a Permanent Representative to the FAO, and the post of Advisor-Deputy Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the FAO was introduced into the staff list of the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Italy, with the assignment of duties to develop systematic practical cooperation with the Organization.

It is important to note that FAO provided assistance in the development of the Agriculture Development Strategy of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2020-2030, a fundamental document that determines the priorities and main directions for the development of the country's agri-food sector. As part of the implementation of projects in Uzbekistan, FAO strongly supports the implementation of the Strategy.

At the same time, FAO is also supporting the improvement of the regulatory framework for agriculture. With the support of FAO, on the basis of advanced foreign experience, new Laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On Organic Products" and "On Geographical Indications" were developed.

In 2021, the next Country Framework Program was signed with FAO for the period 2021-2025. for a total of $17 million. The program serves as a guide for further collaboration and identifies two strategic priorities: Inclusive human capital development leading to health, well-being and sustainable prosperity, and Sustainable development with climate change in mind.

Since 2018, the number and amount of projects launched by FAO in Uzbekistan has been steadily growing. The largest increase occurs in 2020 and 2021 - the period of Uzbekistan's chairmanship of the FAO Regional Conference, when 26 regional and national grant projects worth $32 million were launched. The main donors of projects implemented at the regional level are the Global Environment Facility, the Green Climate Fund, the World bank, as well as the governments of Turkey, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, etc. Currently, with the technical support of FAO, work is underway to attract a grant from the Global Environment Facility in the amount of $6.5 million to combat climate change, mitigate its effects and adapt agriculture economy to climate change.

Together with FAO, major international conferences were held in Tashkent, dedicated to the problems of organic agriculture, conservation agriculture, desertification and land degradation, as well as food security issues. And now preparations are underway for another major international forum - on September 7-8, 2023, Samarkand will host a High-Level International Conference on Food Security under the auspices of FAO. Recall that the initiative to hold the conference was put forward by the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand in September 2022.

In a period of serious geopolitical upheavals and climate change challenges occurring in the world, issues of ensuring food security and sustainable agricultural development make cooperation with FAO one of the most important priorities of the Government of Uzbekistan.