05 November 2022, Rome: A key initiative by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to help countries promote their distinctive food and agricultural products took a major step forward today with the first five demonstration countries named – Bangladesh, Egypt, Malawi, Trinidad and Tobago and Uzbekistan.
The Global Action on One Country One Priority Product (OCOP) aims to build more sustainable food value chains, support family and smallholder farmers to be profitable and improve their livelihoods, minimize the use of chemical inputs and natural resources, reduce food loss and waste, and limit the negative impacts on the environment.
Altogether 78 nations from five FAO regions have been designated as potential project countries, planning to promote 50 Special Agricultural Products (SAPs), under OCOP, which was launched by FAO last year.
The SAPs, covering all kinds of agricultural products, are locally known, available, or underutilized and have the potential to be promoted in national, regional and international markets. “They include field and horticulture crops as well as forest and livestock products, they are locally known and unique to the specific agroecological regions, play a significant role in achieving food security and nutrition and have the potential to be promoted in local, regional and international markets,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in his remarks at the launch event.
Unique business model helps smallholders
The OCOP’s unique business model aims to help smallholder farmers increase their food production in a sustainable way, generates higher incomes and improves livelihoods, placing farmers and their communities at the center.
The first phase, expected to start in January 2023, will aim to include a large part of the applications received from the 78 countries. These will include mainly SAPs based on field and horticulture crops, reflecting the type of submissions made, but not fully restricted to these.
The second phase will cover the remaining countries (and potential new ones), draw on experience gained with the OCOP, and would start in July 2023.
The first-round demonstration project countries identified for implementation of OCOP are: Bangladesh, representing the Asia and the Pacific Region, which will promote jackfruit; Egypt, representing the Near East and North Africa Region, which will promote date palm; Malawi, representing the African Region, which will promote banana; Trinidad and Tobago, representing the Latin American and the Caribbean Region, which will promote cocoa; and Uzbekistan, representing the Europe and Central Asia Region, which will promote sweet cherry.
These five demonstration project countries for implementation of OCOP will share and disseminate their experiences, innovations and technologies during the development of their SAPs. A dedicated FAO global OCOP website was also launched and will be a useful platform to share information and lessons learned during implementation.
Coordination to address challenges
The OCOP country projects will coordinate financial, technical and human resources to address the main challenges identified for SAPs, and support farmers and other stakeholders to further develop the value chain.
The OCOP will focus its efforts on products from drylands, which represent over 43 percent of the world’s total land area, and are home to an estimated 2 billion people, of whom around 90 percent are in developing countries; the tropics, which constitute 40 percent of the Earth’s surface and are home to over 40 percent of the world’s population, and mountains, which cover 25 percent of the world’s land surface, and directly support 12 percent of the world’s population.
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