On July 27th, 2021, the project “Resource Efficiency in Agri-food Production and Processing (REAP)”, funded by the European Union’s SWITCH-Asia programme, held a first ever Stakeholder Dialogue on the “Implementation of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) measures in MSMEs”, as a side event at the Central Asia Climate Change Conference 2021 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The event brought together key actors from Tajikistan’s and Uzbekistan’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the agri-food production and processing sector. Among the participants were industry associations, industry cluster representatives, large food producing companies, relevant public and private institutions, and MSMEs themselves. To allow all stakeholders to participate without travel or pandemic restrictions, the event adopted a hybrid format, with participants from Uzbekistan joining through video conferencing.
SCP for Agri-food Production and Processing
During the first part of the event, the participants got acquainted with the project and SCP practices, since not everyone was previously familiar with REAP. The main topics were how the REAP project can help agri-food production and processing MSMEs in implementing resource saving measures through Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) methodology, as well as how the project can work with a wider array of stakeholders in strengthening the ecosystem for MSMEs to adopt SCP technologies. Ms. Valeriya Orlova from CAREC (the project’s lead organisation) presented the detailed activities planned under the project for MSMEs and ecosystem actors and emphasised the major deliverables of the project. Mr. Stefan Melnitzky and Mr. Markus Möller, Austria Recycling (AREC), provided more information on ground support to MSMEs and showcased benefits of the project interventions through different resource-saving case studies. Amar Munnolimath from adelphi emphasised the cleantech finance-related activities under the project, especially regarding access to financial support for highly-motivated MSMEs that want to implement high-cost SCP measures. Mr. Oleg Rijichenko, CCIU Uzbekistan, and Ms. Nasibakhon Aminova, NASMB Tajikistan, briefly presented the policy ecosystem for SCP in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan respectively, with some policy recommendations to improve the ecosystem.
Mr. Jahongir Babaev, Director of LLC Sitar Agro, Tajikistan, who is also one of the beneficiaries of the REAP project, shared his experience in working with the project. One instance he was particularly impressed with: “We had a problem in packing of corn. The slightest flaw in the packaging made all products unusable; corn lost its properties and we wouldn’t be able to store it for 18 months. This led to problems with customers, people refused to buy our product; but when we realized our mistakes and corrected them together with the technical consultants of the REAP project, we were able to reduce our costs by seven percent. It may seem low, but for the company it is a huge plus, because we did not only reduced packaging cost but also retained confidence of our customers and markets!” – a prime example of the positive impact waste-preventing methods can have on multiple levels.
In the second part of the event, results-oriented roundtable discussions were held to understand the current challenges and opportunities in driving SCP implementations at MSMEs. To allow for a deeper discussion on the problems and existing opportunities for SCP implementations and targeted recommendations, participants split up into two groups, for private and public sector actors respectively. Each roundtable team later presented the results of the discussions to the plenum, and they will be taken into consideration during future project activities.
Summing up, it was possible to identify the main problems of the private sector working in the field of agricultural processing: frequent power outages, quality of raw materials, staff drain, and more. However, at the same time, prospective opportunities have opened up: financial savings, increased market coverage, “profitable waste”.
Thanks to everyone actively contributing, the lively group discussion led to very valuable results. Both the project team and the relevant state agencies gained important insights. Ms. Nigina Rajabova, expert on national agricultural policy of the Secretariat of Agrarian Reforms, noted: “Back in 2015, having signed the Millennium Development Goals, we already set ourselves an orientation on what to strive for. And, of course, we were very pleased that this project was developed. Indeed, it reflects a lot of important issues that today need to be raised and resolved by the Republic of Tajikistan. Everything related to agriculture is related to opportunities. Therefore, the feedback from our other specialists, which we received today, will allow us to take a broader look at the problem and begin to take the first steps to introduce SCP practices in our country."
During the group discussions, participants identified the following recommendations as key to mainstreaming SCP practices in the agri-food industry:
- Introducing educational programmes on SCP in universities or training institutions (agricultural, technological, etc.);
- Developing SCP legislation and regulations at the state level;
- Creating information portals on SCP-related knowledge, financing options, services and best-case implementation, etc.;
- Developing state programmes or initiatives on SCP practices;
- Establishing an interagency and intersectoral coordination mechanism;
- Raising awareness on SCP practices in both the private and public sectors;
- Training specialists on SCP implementation from the private and public sectors;
- Assistance for SMEs in access to finance in cooperation with financial institutions.
Learn more about the REAP project here.
Contact person: Amar Munnolimath