On 9 March, a meeting of agriculture ministers of Central Asian states was held in Ashgabat as part of the international conference “Cooperation on food security in the context of climate change”.
The two-day forum was organized by the Government of Turkmenistan jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the support of the Representative Office of the Permanent Coordinator of the United Nations.
The meeting, held in a hybrid format, was attended by the FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for Central Asia Viorel Gutu, FAO Deputy Director General, FAO Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia Vladimir Rakhmanin, heads of relevant ministries of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, representatives of Iran. In addition to the Central Asian countries, the meeting is also attended by representatives of international organizations and financial institutions, including the World Bank, the Eurasian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank and others.
“Central Asian countries reside over precious yet fragile natural resources reserves, which are under pressure by climate change – a phenomenon that knows no borders,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia. “To boost agriculture in an effective and sustainable manner, events like today’s are important, as they provide a forum to find common and proven solutions.”
The purpose of the Ashgabat forum is to discuss issues of regional and global cooperation in the field of food security. The Forum also provides an opportunity for a multilateral exchange of experience, information, knowledge and technologies, to develop coordinated approaches to solving a wide range of issues in the above-mentioned area, and to enhance the capacity of the agro-industrial sector.
Climate change is forcing shifts in traditional farming practices, which requires immediate response. It is necessary to make the agro-industrial complex more productive, adapt to external impacts and emerging new conditions and challenges.
The importance of food security is also recognized in the Paris Climate Agreement. This is confirmed by the fact that many countries rely primarily on the agro-industrial complex in their plans to adapt to climate change and mitigate its consequences. In this aspect, the application of sustainable agricultural practices to achieve food security is also a priority for the Central Asian countries.
Climate change, food systems and socio-economic conditions are closely interrelated. The sustainability of food supply chains is one of the important elements in strengthening food security, including the smooth functioning of global agricultural production.
Crop cultivation is jeopardized by rising air temperatures and shifting weather conditions. At the same time, there is a need to introduce environmentally friendly “green” technologies into agricultural production in order to minimize its negative impact on the environment and, in particular, reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In this regard, the study and application of the world’s best practices in the field of adaptation to climate change and mitigation of their consequences are of particular importance. The Regional Center for Climate Technologies for Central Asia, initiated by Turkmenistan, can become one of the tools for implementing this task.
The urgency of continuing such meetings on a regular basis was also emphasized, which will further strengthen mutually beneficial partnership that meets common interests, will contribute to the elaboration of concrete proposals and promising joint projects for the effective use of the solid potential of the Central Asian countries.
On the sidelines of the meeting, a number of documents were signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan and the relevant FAO regional structure concerning projects to promote the creation of a digital land cadastre and the management of natural resources on arid and saline agricultural lands.
Today, on March 10, the conference will continue its work within the framework of thematic discussions on such topics as interlinkages between climate change and food security: the role of mitigation and adaptation measures, the impact of climate change on socio-economic development and ecosystems in the region, discussion on the opening of the Regional Center for Climate Technology under the auspices of the UN in Ashgabat.
A key resource in this arid region is water. The majority of the population depends on irrigated agriculture, and the energy needs of Central Asia rely heavily on hydropower. To further advance the dialogue on this matter, FAO will present the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food security related to water scarcity. ///nCa, 20 March 2023 [photo credit – TDH]