07 September 2021, Rome: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today launched its Global Action on Green Development of Special Agricultural Products: One Country One Priority Product (OCOP). This Action aims to develop green and sustainable value chains for special agricultural products, support small and family farmers reap the full benefits of a global market and ultimately help the transformation of current agri-food systems and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Special Agricultural Products (SAPs) are those with unique qualities and special characteristics associated with geographical locations and cultural heritages, which can significantly contribute to ensuring food security and healthy diets, supporting farmers’ livelihoods and economic growth while protecting the environment and biodiversity.
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SAPs include all kinds of agricultural products, recognized (or having the potential to be recognized) as symbolic national or local agricultural products, but have not fully benefited from agricultural and rural development programmes to the extent of commonly grown staple crops (e.g. rice, wheat, maize, soybean and potato). SAPs also have a huge potential to be integrated into local, regional, and global markets and trade.
“Today, global food supplies increasingly depend on just a few crops and products. Most agri-food systems have high-input, are resource-intensive and lack integration, optimization and innovation,” said the Director-General, QU Dongyu, at the launch event.
Central to the Global Action is to promote SAPs through innovation and green development, as well as to facilitate development for smallholders and family farming production models, which can significantly contribute to the achieving of the 2030 Agenda – in particular SDGs 1 (No poverty) and 2 (No hunger).
“The goal of this Global Action is to bring significant outcomes for national economic competitiveness, social inclusiveness and sustainable development,” Qu said.
The initiative aims to optimise production systems; minimise loss of crop yields and biodiversity; minimise food loss, waste, and misuse of agricultural chemicals; and maximise integrated agricultural profits. Combined, the objective of these elements is to enable the transition to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems.
“The transformation of agri-food systems starts by identifying one product or a specific crop,” highlighted the Director-General. “This one product then becomes an entry-point for new, concrete actions to achieve tangible results for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.”
During the event, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Levan Davitashvili, mentioned that perennial orchards promoted under the country’s “Plant the Future” programme could be linked to the OCOP initiative. Such an example would contribute to the promotion of green value chains, including sustainable production and long-term planning for storage and processing, he noted.
The OCOP launch event also included remarks from El-Tahir Ismail Mohamed Harbi, Federal Minister for Agriculture and Forestry of Sudan; Chalermchai Sri-orn, Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand; Moisés Santiago Bertoni, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock of Paraguay; Clémentine Ananga Messina, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Cameroon; and Ambassador Alexandra Valkenburg, Permanent Representative of the European Union to FAO. All participants highlighted the potential benefits of the Global Action and signalled their commitment to the initiative.
“The success of the Global Action will depend on the collective support, active engagement and robust contributions from all stakeholders across all regions and sectors,” Qu concluded.