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Dear on-line trade-info platform guest,

European Commission Central Asia Invest V Program financed “ELSOFP CA Project” team is pleasedto welcome you to our on-line trade-info platform. How and why we are different from other various portalsand platforms? We are free of charge, trade operations between CA and Europe are real, consultation andsupport are delivered on-time, accessible training materials anytime!

All the materials produced during the ELSOFP Project are accessible in a user-friendly

manner/language via on-line platform specially designed for farmers, producers, traders and all interestedand involved into sustainable natural resource management, production, trade as well as consultations,standards and export etc.

Platform Info part contains all the training, marketing, international standards, GI, export, and otheruseful materials, which can be accessed at any time free of charge. The advantage of such an approach is an eternal access any materials can be accessed by any users at any moment. Any of the materials can bedownloaded for free in an adapted to user needs "packages" formed by users themselves ("shopping-basket"principle), therefore avoiding bulky chapters/documents but forming "manuals" reflecting onlytopics/questions necessary to each individual.

Platform trade part contains vast product choice for traders, farm and forest unit’s location information for requested traceability by EU purchasers, option to form groups for Organic certification and get interesting offers and opportunities from producers, find farmers and NTFP producers and connect with them on-line and many more. Why ELSOFP CA Project developed such a platform?

- To increase professional capacities of smallholder producers and MSMEs

- To promote intra-regional and international trade

- To enable business environment for smallholder producers and agri-food MSMEs

 

ELSOFP Project insights:

Name: Expansion of Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek Local Smallholder Organic Farming and

Forest-based food products to EU Markets

Duration: 01/01/2020 – 31/12/2022

Location: Kyrgyzstan: Batken, Jalal-Abad, Osh and Talas regions

Tajikistan: Khatlon and Sughd regions

Uzbekistan: Andijan, Fergana, Jizzakh, Namangan, Samarkand, Sirdarya, Tashkent

Regions

 

The project aims to:

  • Boost the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the agri-food sector ofKyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan through increasing the efficiency and sustainability of production and processing of food products from smallholder farming and forest management operations
  • Promoting the sustainable management of natural resources, through organic production practices, which reduce adverse impacts on climate change and enhance natural biodiversity.
  • Establishing sustainable high-quality value chains for Central Asian food products to EU markets through improving collaboration and coordination of stakeholders along the value chain, particularly of smallholder producers, food processing/manufacturing enterprises and traders to EU markets.
  • Strengthening enabling environments for local agri-food and forestry systems through promotingcertification of selected food products in line with market and relevant food hygiene requirements.
  • Increasing the capacity of local advisory services, and support gender equality and sustainable economic development.

Please explore full potential of platform, by visiting: https://rural-cluster.org and follow us on Facebook For more detailed information, please attend our on-line ZOOM event on 4th of November 2020 – program attached

Thank you for your time and collaboration!

On behalf of EU CAI V Program Financed ELSOFP CA Project Consortia


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While the Covid-19 pandemic in Central Asian countries violates the well-being of people, the healthcare system here, like in other countries, is under increased pressure. At the same time, measures taken by the state to contain a pandemic, such as social distance, as well as proactive closure of borders, have a negative impact on national economies. In particular, on small and medium business, which affects the economic stability of the region. Due to the exposure of Central Asian countries to changes in foreign markets, whether it is the export of raw materials, the movement of labor migrants and their remittances, these countries are particularly vulnerable to worsening external conditions. According to preliminary forecasts, this will have adverse effects on economic growth, employment and the state budget. It is clear that in many countries it will not be possible to avoid a recession, but at the same time, it is necessary to restrain the pandemic.

According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) estimates, for each month the quarantine will take away two percentage points of GDP growth. The impact on GDP growth will depend not only on the magnitude and duration of stops at the national level, but also on the degree of decrease in demand for goods and services, as well as on measures for fiscal and monetary policy in the state.

In light of the particularly tight budget constraints faced by many governments in the region, a number of international financial institutions have mobilized to provide immediate financial support.

 

Country Overview:

Kyrgyzstan:has been hit hard by COVID-19, which is quickly draining public finances and paralyzing much of the country's economy. In order to counter the effects of the crisis, the government will need to approve further measures to support the private sector and strengthen the social protection system by monitoring money supply fluctuations. In the long run, reducing the budget deficit should remain the focus of government attention, and to ensure sustainable growth, measures will be required to improve the legal environment for business, formalize business activity and further reduce trade barriers.

Tajikistan:the economic costs of the crisis will be high, even if the country manages to keep COVID-19 with minimal distribution, given the structural problems facing the country, especially its dependence on the reduction of remittances. In the short term, the government will need to focus on allocating appropriate resources to protect public health, ensure compliance with containment measures, ensure food security, and support the private sector, including through financial programs and tax breaks. In the long run, the country should continue its efforts to improve the business climate in order to increase private investment and employment.

Uzbekistan:The global economic impact of COVID-19 is weakening the economy of Uzbekistan, in particular due to falling prices and sales of natural gas to Russia and China, and a reduction in the flow of remittances from workers in Russia (about 1.3 billion US dollars). As well as the partial closure of Kazakhstan as the main export market for the supply of fresh agricultural products. For the economy to withstand the shock, the government will have to find the right balance between immediate measures to accelerate recovery and continuous reform efforts to maintain the country's growth potential and diversify its economy.

The current crisis is a test of the willingness of Central Asian countries to build up regional political interaction, remove trade barriers, increase economic cooperation and resolve most of the long-term regional problems

At the same time, it is important for the region now to think about the post-crisis world, think out its own strategy in the new conditions and prepare for the expected structural changes in the world order and economic system. Cohesion and cohesion of regional efforts in confronting potential emergencies require further strengthening of regional cooperation, expanding the range of confidence-building measures in Central Asia, and deepening trade and economic cooperation. Strategic planning, mutual support and a balanced foreign policy can be key factors in quickly overcoming the pandemic and stabilizing the epidemiological and socio-economic situation in Central Asia.

More info...


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Due to the quarantine measures introduced by countries due to the spread of COVID-19, the opportunities for face-to-face meetings have been effectively replaced by online communication. Within the framework of the project “Expansion of Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek local smallholder organic agriculture and forest-based food products to EU Markets”, working meetings are held online. On June 10th, the ELSOFP Central Asia project took part in a regional webinar: “Promoting the Restoration of the Private Sector in Central Asian Countries”.

The online discussion organized by the OECD was very timely and useful, because during the webinar there was an opportunity to hear the reports of ministers, deputy ministers and senior representatives of government agencies of seven Central Asian countries (including Afghanistan and Mongolia), responsible for the development and implementation of anti-crisis measures; representatives of the private sector; international experts; representatives of the European Union and a number of international organizations.

As the Central Asian countries closed their borders with neighboring states and introduced restrictions on internal movement to stop the spread of the virus, the value chains were temporarily suspended.

Central Asian countries (with the exception of Kazakhstan) export goods to a very narrow number of markets. As a result of the concentration of economic activity, they are highly susceptible to external crisis, since the effects of declining demand for major exported goods are amplified by a narrow circle of trading partners and a lack of alternative vast number of niche markets.

“Measures that inhibit the spread of COVID-19 will lead to a significant increase in trade costs,” reflected EU Special Representative for Central Asia Ambassador Peter Burian in his message, “Falling trade incomes will create problems for countries with high levels of external debts. A protracted economic crisis could exacerbate socioeconomic inequality”.

In order to support the governments of Central Asian countries, the OECD conducted an analysis of the potential impact of COVID-19 on countries in the region, examining their strengths and weaknesses. This webinar made it possible to discuss the initial results of the work carried out by the OECD in the difficult conditions of the current crisis.

An important step is that the responsible political leadership of the Central Asian countries had the opportunity to exchange useful experiences (from taxation and monetary policy to employment and education) and plan a more coordinated regional course for economic recovery.

In the Central Asia countries, (taking into account the experience of European countries), they have developed their anti-crisis measures to stimulate business activity, mainly related to tax and lending benefits for the small and medium-sized business sector.

More details can be found in the full material in Russian (link) and English (link). All presentations and webinar recordings can be obtained by clicking on the link - in English: bit.ly/35lXfQR and in Russian: bit.ly/2XRChYd

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International Day for Biological Diversity was founded in order to draw the attention of mankind to the fact that the richness of species of various plants, animals, microorganisms and ecosystems are under constant threat. Indeed, the number of species of wild flora and fauna is rapidly and significantly reduced. That is why the problems of loss of biological diversity are among the basic requirements of modern society and require the elimination of its causes.

The theme of International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) on May 22, 2020 is “Our solutions are in nature” It gives us all hope to build a better future in harmony with nature.

As part of the planned activities of the ELSOFP Central Asia project (Expanding and promoting organic and forest-based products from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the EU markets), particular attention is paid to issues of biodiversity and impact on it through innovative agricultural and forest management methods. (e.g. organic farming, sustainable forest management).

Various international standards planned to promote and implement under the ELSOFP Central Asia project and to provide market access for manufacturers and MSMEs. And also create conditions for the rational use of natural resources.

Organic farming provides nature-based solutions for biodiversity conservation. The use of synthetic substances, the emphasis on monocultural agriculture, the intensification of the maximum yield values from conventional agricultural production, the involvement in a significant reduction in the number and diversity of animals and plants in rural areas. The Red List of Endangered Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) notes that a fundamental threat to biodiversity is the loss of habitat and that 70% of bird species are at risk of the extinction and 49% of the plant species are listed as endangered.

The absence of pesticides improves the natural habitats of birds, insects and soil microorganisms. Studies show that thanks to this approach, the populations of birds, plants, insects and plants in nature are much higher than anywhere else. Moreover, the use of genetically modified organisms is not allowed in organic agriculture and responsible forest management.

The ecosystem approach is a fundamental requirement for the manufacturer of the products that will be involved in the ELSOFP Central Asia project. This approach will be taken into account in the development of training programs, as well as in the field of ensuring the quality of food and non-timber forest products (NTFP). Sustainable agricultural and forest management practices maintain biodiversity and ensure high efficiency of ecosystem services (e.g. water supply, soil protection). In addition, local communities can certainly benefit.


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The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many problems, including the food security and nutrition crisis. Forced quarantine of COVID-19 threat exposed the main risks in global food systems and brought them closer to a critical point. The reason was that health systems and food security were underestimated and not well protected.

But there are also positive points. For example, the crisis provided insights into new and more sustainable food systems, as communities came together to fill the gaps in food systems and government authorities took extraordinary steps to ensure food production and supply. For all of us, lessons must be learned, and preventive measures taken to transform the food system, which creates sustainability at all levels.

We need transformations that can bring benefits not only to people, but also to the environment, and prevent the spread of dangerous diseases. Now it is important to take into account the possibilities to reduce supply interruptions and trade disruptions, reduce the impact of panic purchases and provide the population with healthy and affordable food. And also provide guarantees of fair wages and safe conditions for workers in the food industry and agriculture, thereby reducing their vulnerability to economic shocks, the risk of infection and the spread of disease.

 

  1. What problems did the situation reveal regarding COVID-19 for food systems?

The COVID-19 crisis has shed light on the vulnerability of food systems in four ways:

  • Firstly, the likelihood of outbreaks of animal diseases that have a strong impact is increased by keeping a large number of animals in small rooms, narrowing genetic diversity, rapid turnover of animals and fragmentation of the habitat due to the expansion of animal husbandry.
  • Secondly, restrictions on the movement of people and goods create serious difficulties for the local population for all countries, without exception, and negatively affect the entire supply chain. Work on the cultivation and collection of agricultural products and beekeeping should be carried out systematically. Farmers are also very vulnerable to economic disruptions. In rural areas, according to estimates by the International Labor Organization, “most jobs do not provide enough income for workers to provide themselves and their families with adequate food.”
  • Thirdly, hundreds of millions of people are constantly living on the brink of hunger, malnutrition and extreme poverty and are therefore very vulnerable to the effects of the global recession. Before COVID-19, 820 million people were already malnourished, and 2 billion people were already food insecure. In developing countries, the dangers posed by the pandemic have exacerbated gender issues. All over the world, women and girls are more vulnerable to economic shocks, especially in poor families.
  • Fourth, food workers around the world face insecurity and low wages, and as a result are among those most at risk due to economic disruptions in food supply chains. People working in the restaurant or retail business are facing huge losses due to social distance policies and partly due to the overall economic downturn.

 

  1. How do food system actors respond to COVID-19? The contours of the new system and the stranglehold of the old.

Food security is an integral part of national security. Improving the provision of food to the population is an important socio-economic task, the solution of which is of great importance both for the development of the state and each specific region.

The vulnerability of food systems to climate and disease-related disabilities was evident long before the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, food systems have repeatedly been destabilized as a result of shocks, from the oil crisis of the 1970s to the spike in commodity prices in 2007-2008, as well as outbreaks of atypical pneumonia and Ebola.

The crisis has given an idea of ​​what new and more sustainable food systems might look like. Governments at various levels quickly took steps to protect workers and the right to food - often working in concert with civil society. Many countries have taken steps towards healthy and sustainable food systems.

In other words, industrial food systems must be re-developed, now taking into account climate change and ecosystem conservation, as well as the creation of food systems that are resistant to pandemics and other possible shocks.

  1. What awaits us in the future: innovation or routine?

Understanding the vulnerability of our food systems should not go unnoticed. The pace of new zoonotic epidemics and pandemics is accelerating. Therefore, the following steps are critical to creating sustainability at all levels:

Recommendation No. 1. Taking urgent measures to protect the most vulnerable sectors of society.

Measures must be taken to maintain access to food and ensure security in the midst of a public health crisis. Governments must urgently establish or strengthen social protection mechanisms and emergency food assistance programs that protect the most vulnerable, including infants and children, the elderly, people with disabilities and those living in poverty - many of whom already rely on food assistance. All measures should also be compatible with a wide range of cultural, socio-economic or geographical conditions that may affect public health responses. Countries should be able to take these steps without fear of harming their public finances and, without diverting resources, from other pressing problems.

Recommendation No. 2. Creation of sustainable agroecological food systems.

A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems is more relevant than ever. Agroecology creates sustainability by combining the natural synergies of various species of plants and animals and their biological characteristics of protection and adaptability, based on safe means for soil regeneration and pest control.

Territorial markets and short supply chains are often a key component of agro-ecological systems and can increase access to fresh food, provide greater value to farmers and reduce vulnerability to disruptions in international markets. In the long run, agrarian reform will also be needed to reduce inequalities in access to land, especially for millions of smallholder farmers.

Recommendation No. 3. Rebalancing economic power for the public good: a new treaty between the state and society.

Serious gaps in governance have emerged, primarily due to inadequate investments in public health and food security. Although some government agencies have taken extraordinary steps to provide food, as a result of the crisis, many people have remained completely dependent on the charity and solidarity of their neighbors - from which they cannot be expected to meet their basic needs. However, COVID-19 has shown that governments can act in the name of well-being and act most effectively when they deliver core centralized functions while providing resources and coordinating actions at the regional and local levels.

Moreover, to prevent all possible monopolistic practices. As supply chain uncertainty and an unpredictable future, many small and medium-sized agri-food companies may be on the verge of bankruptcy or under significant pressure from shareholders. Therefore, all possible activities on the “mergers and acquisitions" of production should be subjected to a particularly careful analysis at the time of the crisis and after emerging from it.

Recommendation No. 4. Reforming the management of international food systems.

The crisis also provides an excellent opportunity to rethink the 2021 Food Systems Summit and reorient it towards sustainability and agroecology, building on a democratic debate. UN conventions on climate change and biodiversity are approaching crucial conferences at the end of 2020, which focus on agriculture.

 

International expert group on sustainable food systems.


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Not only human life is closely connected with the forest. Forests are vital for biodiversity. Forests shelter 80% of all living organisms on earth. However, millions of hectares of forests disappear annually, and biodiversity is in serious danger. Scientists have concluded that over the past 40 years, the population of all forest species has halved on average! Forests die from fires, illegal logging, natural disasters, pests and other causes.

More than a billion people directly depend on forests as a source of food, shelter, energy resources and income. Sustainable forest management and restoration as needed is vital to people, biodiversity and climate.

In Uzbekistan, the total land area of ​​the State Forest Fund is 9.6 million hectares, that is 21.7% of the total area of ​​the republic. Moreover, the country's forest cover, that is, the ratio of the forested area to the total territory, is 6.7%. According to the orographic and soil-climatic conditions, forests in Uzbekistan are divided into mountain, valley-floodplain and desert. In the mountains, 11% of the total forest area of ​​Uzbekistan is occupied by coniferous species, and more than 3% under walnut trees.

Forests are a source of non-wood products - nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.), fruits (apple, pear, cherry plum, apricot, hawthorn, barberry, etc.), mushrooms, berries, medical plants, tannins and dyes.

Relict walnut and other wild fruit forests grow in low mountains and mid mountains, i.e. the most favorable areas for living and therefore experience increased anthropogenic stress. The tangible damage to the forest fund is also inflicted by unreasonable and unregulated grazing, and, accordingly, the destruction of undergrowth and reproduction of the forest fund.

The problem of preserving the forest and its wealth today is among the most important environmental problems for all countries of the world. In recent years, trends related to deforestation of the Earth have been alarming not only for ecologists, but also for the entire international community.

Within the framework of the ELSOFP Central Asia project (Expansion of Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek local smallholder organic agriculture and forest-based food products to EU Markets), it is planned to involve forest users and small farmers in the process of sustainable management of natural resources, using organic production methods and assisting in the development of ecosystem services that will at the same time reduce the negative impact on the forest fund.

In Central Asia, it is important to establish a certification system for organic agriculture and responsible forest management that reflects the preferences of traders and end users in the EU target markets.

The use of non-wood, food and medicinal resources of the forest every year becomes more and more relevant and popular. Gradually, realization that the harvesting and use of non-timber forest resources can bring a steady income from the territory for an unlimited amount of time, in contrast to large-scale industrial continuous logging, is increasing. Due to the trend in the use of healthy, environmentally friendly food, the demand for natural products from processing forest food resources is not decreasing, but, on the contrary, growing all the time.

Local smallholder farmers and forest users will benefit from promoting innovative farming and forest management practices (e.g., organic farming, sustainable forest management), providing market information, certification, business skills and similar measures, ultimately contributing to increased farmers' incomes and increased motivation to maintain and forest protection.


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