African countries urged to support ‘One Country One Priority Product’ initiative

Africa is the first of FAO’s regions to launch the One Country One Priority Product initiative.
Africa is the first of FAO’s regions to launch the One Country One Priority Product initiative.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched the new ‘One Country One Priority Product’ initiative in Africa, urging countries to join the initiative to develop green value chains and promote agricultural products internationally.

Africa is the first of FAO’s regions to launch the One Country One Priority Product initiative.
Africa is the first of FAO’s regions to launch the One Country One Priority Product initiative.

Close to 500 people from across Africa attended the online launch, including Ministers of Agriculture, technical experts, and representatives of research and resource partners.

“This is a country-inclusive initiative,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol in her remarks. “We are in a time, today more than ever, when we need to strengthen our collaborations and find new ways to work together”.

The initiative focuses on developing Special Agricultural Products (SAPs) which have unique qualities and special characteristics associated with geographical locations, farming practices and cultural heritages. They are important examples of underutilized resources which have not received the same attention as commonly known agricultural products, but which can significantly contribute to ensuring food security and healthy diets, supporting a sustainable bioeconomy and improving farmers’ livelihoods and economic growth, while protecting the environment and biodiversity.

“I am convinced that farmers today and tomorrow, in particular in Central Africa, will come out as winners,” said H.E. Désiré M’Zinga Birihanze, Minister of Agriculture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the launch.

“OCOP is seen by the Government of Lesotho as a catalyst for rural transformation,” said Masia Johane, Deputy Principal Secretary of Lesotho’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

“FAO is offering our services and extensive networks to promote your product globally. This is a huge resource,” said FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa Abebe Haile-Gabriel. “Can you imagine the impact this can have, particularly for countries in Africa who face challenges in market access?,” he said.

Supporting better production

OCOP was first launched by the FAO Director-General in September 2021 and its aim is to address the increasing challenges faced by smallholders and family farmers.

The initiative is an important way that FAO can deliver on achieving the aspirations of the four betters – better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life – leaving no one behind.

It also supports implementation of national and regional priority programmes, and ultimately helps countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In her remarks, DDG Bechdol set out four key elements of OCOP: It is a country-inclusive initiative, and all FAO Members are encouraged to join based on their own unique needs and comparative advantages; it is product-inclusive meaning that priority lies with crops but other types of products are not excluded; It is food systems-inclusive meaning it can involve all aspects of agrifood systems; and it is stakeholder-inclusive meaning all relevant stakeholders are welcome to build partnerships, exchange knowledge and disseminate innovations.

“As we launch OCOP for Africa region today, I believe we can set a model for other regions,” Bechdol said.

FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa and OCOP leader in Africa Yurdi Yasmi detailed the regional workplan for Africa, stating that work is well underway in the region.



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