More than 50 scientists and policy makers from 15 countries recently met in Fergana, Uzbekistan, to discuss on-going research projects and future plans to increase food production and boost agricultural development in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The Steering Committee for the ICARDA-hosted CGIAR Regional Program for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Central Asia and the Caucasus (CAC) reviewed the achievements of the Program over the past year and discussed future targets and priorities.
The meeting was attended by senior policy officers from regional Ministries of Agriculture, the directors of agricultural research from national institutions in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and director generals and senior scientists of international agricultural research centers. Representatives from several international development and donor organizations also joined.
The CAC region is faced with a plethora of challenges stemming from climate change, land degradation and growing concern over the availability and quality of water resources. All this calls for new integrated approaches to ensuring sustainable agricultural production and food security, and improving rural livelihoods.
In addition to the regional program, these challenges are being tackled head-on by the ICARDA-led CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems, launched in 2013, through which research is now in progress in three trans-boundary ‘Action Sites,’ in the Aral Sea Region, the Rasht Valley, and the Fergana Valley.
The meeting discussed progress in this, and other CGIAR Research Programs active within the region - including ‘Wheat,’ ‘Dryland Cereals,’ ‘Water, Land and Ecosystems,’ and ‘Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security.’ Participants exchanged knowledge on how agricultural innovations are improving climate change adaptation and water management in the CAC region, and how on-going research projects were enhancing the productivity and sustainability of agricultural production.
Recent successes include: over 67 crop varieties released through international collaboration; the seed multiplication of stripe rust-resistant crop varieties across 1050 hectares (ha) in Uzbekistan and 1000 ha in Tajikistan; and the introduction of conservation agriculture techniques over 1,900,000 in Kazakhstan.
Given that delegations from eight CAC countries were present, the meeting also helped to identify country priorities, needs and capacities in agricultural research for development. More importantly, however, the meeting set the scene for a ministerial meeting on food security and environmental sustainability, planned to be held in Turkmenistan in December.
The meeting also included a subsequent visit to research and demonstration sites in Fergana province, where participants interacted with farmers and local authorities.
For more information on the CGIAR Regional Program for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Central Asia and the Caucasus (CAC) visit: http://cac-program.org/
The Fergana meeting concluded with a subsequent visit to a research and demonstration site in Fergana province, where participants interacted with farmers and local authorities.