FAO kicks off implementation of the One Country One Priority Product projects in NENA countries

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched the implementation of the Once Country, One Priority Product (OCOP) projects in Near East and North Africa countries.

The Global Action on Green Development of Special Agricultural Products: One Country One Priority Product (OCOP) is a five-year programme (2021-25) launched by FAO to promote at global, regional and local levels the Special Agricultural Products with unique qualities and special characteristics that can contribute to the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.

The OCOP works to address the current and recurring challenges of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition as well as to contribute to the development of smallholders and family farms, amongst other strategic objectives.

This was the fifth and final FAO regional launch for the implementation of the OCOP country projects, and was held in Cairo, Egypt, from 11-13 September 2023. Over 100 participants from ten OCOP member countries attended the launch event, namely Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen who are collectively promoting fig, date palms, pulses, carob, coffee, olive, and harissa with some overlapping countries promoting the same Special Agricultural Product (SAP), i.e., date palms, which are Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. Because of date palms being such a prominent and relevant SAP at this event, three non-OCOP countries that are also developing their date palm sectors have also been invited to participate in this important event, which are Sudan, Libya, and Oman.

The event was also attended by numerous FAO colleagues, in addition to government officials from the OCOP demonstration and pilot countries as well as partner agencies, such as from academia, donors, the private sector, and beneficiary farmers.

In his opening remarks, Jingyuan Xia, Executive Secretary of the OCOP Secretariat and Special Advisor to the Director-General at FAO, highlighted the clear objectives of the OCOP initiative regarding the development of the sustainable value chains of SAPs and contributing to the achievement of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He stated that Egypt as the demonstration country of the OCOP, Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control and Farmer Field School, will set up excellent examples for the other countries in the region.

“Through the implementation of the OCOP country projects, we are working to create productive and resilient food systems, improve food security and nutrition for all, increase quality and productivity of crops, and reduce food waste,” said AbdulHakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director- General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa, during his opening speech.

“With the right guidance from FAO, farmers can now use best agricultural practices, such as reduced use of agricultural chemicals, reduced GHG emission, land degradation and biodiversity loss, helping to combat climate change and improve the environment. Through the OCOP initiative, we are also working to improve the livelihood of smallholder and family farmers through the creation of decent jobs and an increased income, as well as increased involvement of different ethnic and social groups, including youth, girls and women,” Elwaer added.

During the launch event, participants reviewed the progress of the OCOP implementation in the NENA region; exchanged information and good practices; identified challenges at the country level; and discussed the way forward to promote the OCOP implementation in the region.

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