Agriculture plays a major role in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but both countries are facing increasing vulnerability in this sector. Food insecurity and a strong dependence on food imports make them susceptible to climate change and geopolitics. Each country has specific vulnerabilities rooted in their geography, economy and history. In Uzbekistan, small businesses (Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises – MSMEs) play a key role, as their share in gross agricultural production is 98.1 percent. The export of Uzbek agricultural products increases from year to year. As for processing and intermediate storage, Uzbekistan is in the top twenty countries in terms of cold storage. In Tajikistan, more than 60 percent of the population live in the rural areas. The country’s natural resource base is weak and, due to remaining agricultural inefficiencies of the Soviet system, declined productivity poses severe challenges for its food security. Business is constrained and a key condition for improving economic growth and investment involves improving the business environment in agri-food processing by introducing more efficient production techniques.
To address the specific concerns of the region and increase resilience, the European Commission's SWITCH-Asia Programme has launched a new project: Promoting Resource Efficiency in Agri-food Production and Processing in Central Asia (REAP) promotes Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) practices in the agri-food production and processing industries along the entire supply chain in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The project develops a business case for resource efficiency measures by MSMEs, promoting eco-efficiency based on international standards and supporting companies in presenting bankable projects to financial institutions. To support the MSMEs during and beyond the project, local SCP consultants will be trained.
The project will be implemented along two dimensions, direct industry support and stakeholder engagement. The primary activity of the project will be targeted towards direct support provided to MSMEs through capacity building measures, direct consultation and guidance through the process of implementing concrete resource efficiency measures. In addition, the project will conceptualise and implement specific activities to target key stakeholder groups individually through stakeholder roundtables, policy roundtables and dialogue and financial sector engagement. This will enable the creation of a comprehensive support framework for SCP uptake in MSMEs. This two-pronged, multi-level approach has been successful in multiple countries in South and South East Asia, making over 1000 industries more profitable.
adelphi is responsible for building the capacity of local consultants on technical and management consulting to implement SCP measures, organising stakeholder roundtables and workshops to better understand the SCP ecosystem and scenario in the region, and organising policy roundtables and regional policy dialogue. In addition, adelphi will analyse current policies and develop policy briefs to further SCP on this basis. To help MSMEs access financing, adelphi will also offer support to them, build the capacity of financial institutions in the region to develop Cleantech Finance products, and lead a business plan prototyping workshop for setting up SCP cells in the focus countries. This all-levels approach will help MSMEs, local and regional government and financial institutions to work together on establishing sustainable practices in agriculture and food processing.