Transforming Agrifood Landscape: FAO and EU Launch EU-TAAS Project

In a momentous stride towards bolstering agrifood systems and combating poverty in Bhutan, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN Bhutan, in tandem with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MoAL), unveiled the European Union Technical Assistance for Agrifood Systems (EU-TAAS) project in a ceremony held yesterday.

The EU-TAAS project, a collaborative endeavor between FAO and MoAL, sets its sights on fortifying Bhutan’s technical prowess in fostering sustainable, inclusive, and climate-resilient food systems. With the EU’s provision of Euro 15 million to Bhutan for agricultural development on September 20, 2022, this initiative represents a crucial step towards sustainable growth.

With a budget totaling EUR 1.4 million, the project aims to catalyze the diversification of Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) sectors, opening avenues for green economic opportunities and ensuring food and nutritional security, all while prioritizing the sustainable stewardship of natural resources.

The inauguration workshop of the project served as a pivotal platform to delineate a shared vision of its theory of change, objectives, and anticipated outcomes among stakeholders. Discussions encompassed the endorsement of the project’s Monitoring and Evaluation framework, alongside activity tracking plans.

Furthermore, the workshop provided insights into the EU’s budget support facet, shedding light on ongoing initiatives and outlining future trajectories for the current fiscal year.

This hybrid event, graced by the presence of FAO Representative for Bhutan and Nepal, Ken Shimizu, and MoAL Secretary, Thinley Namgyel, drew participation from governmental bodies, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and the Delegation of the European Union to India and Bhutan.

Secretary Thinley Namgyel underscored the workshop’s timeliness, emphasizing the ministry’s preparedness to execute the 13th Five Year Plan with a concerted emphasis on food and nutrition security. He articulated, “To achieve food and nutrition security, the ministry is focused on two areas: high-value export-oriented products and ensuring a level of self-sufficiency of some products within the country during emergencies.”

Ken Shimizu extended gratitude to the government and the European Union for entrusting FAO as a partner in the metamorphosis of Bhutan’s agrifood systems, reaffirming FAO’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the project’s triumphant realization.

Franck Viault, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for Bhutan and India, expressed optimism regarding the technical assistance’s potential to bolster the agriculture ministry’s endeavors in fostering coordination among agencies, civil society organizations, and the private sector in reshaping Bhutan’s agri-food landscape.

Implemented by FAO, the project endeavors to foster diversification in the RNR sector, champion sustainable resource management, and augment food and nutrition security in Bhutan. Spanning 46 months, this initiative forms a pivotal component of the EU and the government’s collaborative efforts under the ‘Promoting Inclusive, Sustainable, and Resilient Agri-Food Systems in Bhutan’ financing agreement.

The EU’s steadfast support for Bhutan’s RNR sector, spanning back to 1984, reflects a longstanding partnership that has evolved from water supply projects to the current budget support program, underscoring the enduring commitment to Bhutan’s agricultural advancement.

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