Azerbaijan, Türkiye and Uzbekistan will share experiences gained during project implementation through sub-regional workshops and policy dialogues aimed at strengthening institutional capacity and adopting an integrated approach to addressing land abandonment.
24 August 2022, Ankara – Problems in the food and agriculture sector have become increasingly pressing due to factors such as conflicts, climate change and economic shocks. As a result, land banking has grown in importance. Many countries are simultaneously suffering from land abandonment or lack of utilization of agricultural land, while facing associated negative consequences such as food insecurity and loss of economic opportunities. In this context, the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programme (FTPP) has initiated a new project entitled “Enhancing agricultural land market development to address land abandonment and improve land consolidation procedures”. The project aims to support Azerbaijan, Türkiye and Uzbekistan in designing land market development measures and land consolidation and land banking models to reduce land abandonment and facilitate farm enlargement.
On 7 July 2022, an inception meeting for the project took place online with the participation of high-level officials from the beneficiary countries. The meeting was held in English with simultaneous interpretation in Russian and Turkish.
In her opening remarks, Ayşegül Selışık, Assistant FAO Representative in Türkiye, explained that experiences gained during project implementation will be shared between the three partner countries through a series of sub-regional workshops and policy dialogues aimed at strengthening institutional capacity and adopting an integrated approach to addressing abandoned land and developing agricultural land markets.
Faruk Fıratoğlu, Deputy General Director of State Hydraulic Works (DSI) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Türkiye, raised the issue of the scale of agricultural lands that can be addressed through land consolidation projects and expressed a willingness to support colleagues from Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan within the framework of the project.
Taking the floor after Fıratoğlu, Abdulkadir Karabulut, Deputy General Director of the General Directorate of Agrarian Reform (GDAR) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Türkiye, noted that “during the present period, we need to manage the production resources we have, especially land resources, in the most efficient manner possible – and one of the best methodologies in this regard is land banking”.
Firidun Taghiyev, Head of the Department of Land Use Control of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Azerbaijan affirmed that land abandonment is a growing problem and that land fragmentation in Azerbaijan is also a concern in this regard. After listing the factors impacting land abandonment, Taghiyev noted that land banking will enable Türkiye and Azerbaijan to form new mechanisms to tackle these factors.
The meeting continued with a speech given by Oybek Soatov, Head of the Department for Land Management and Regulation of Land Relations of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Soatov gave details of problems that negatively affect land use, such as pollution of agricultural land by industrial and household waste, conservation, reclamation, small plot sizes and division into different sections, and pointed out that the project will contribute to the rational use of lands in the future.
The opening session was followed by project presentations and briefings. Morten Hartvigsen, Lead Technical Officer of the project from FAO REU, provided information on good regional practices related to land consolidation and land banking. He was followed by Hakkı Emrah Erdoğan, Senior Land Management Advisor and the Project Coordinator, who introduced the project framework and planned activities, and provided information and statistics on farmland structures, land fragmentation, land abandonment and land consolidation in Türkiye, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
The meeting provided a fertile platform for participants to discuss the root causes of land abandonment and the need to develop agricultural land markets, taking into account country-specific differences and similarities. It also enabled the participants to elaborate on good regional practices regarding land consolidation and land banking.
About the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programmes
The objectives of the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programmes are to provide support to ensure food security, rural poverty reduction and sustainable forest management; to combat desertification; and to preserve ecosystems in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and other countries of mutual interest.
Established in 2007, the first phase of the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programme on Food and Agriculture (FTPP) has benefited from trust fund contributions totalling USD 10 million, financed by the Government of Türkiye and represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. During the first phase of the programme, 28 projects were implemented in 16 countries between 2009 and 2015.
In 2014, Türkiye and FAO commenced the second phase of the FTPP along with the first phase of the FAO-Türkiye Forestry Partnership Programme (FTFP), with additional funding of USD 20 million, bringing Türkiye’s total contribution to USD 30 million.