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Development Account Projects

Strengthening the capacity of transitional and developing economies to participate in cross-border agricultural food supply chains


In many developing and transition economies, agricultural trade is the backbone ofsustained social and economic development. The emergence of innovative agricultural supply chains and the latest approaches to improve supply chain management provide new business and income opportunities, in particular for rural communities, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and for women. Access to international agricultural supply chains remains a challenge for traders from transition economies. According to a study carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), one third of the world’s food production is lost and wasted every year. Research from the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology has suggested that over 1 billion tons of food are lost worldwide owing to inefficiencies in the agrifood supply chain. The Secretary-General, in a report submitted to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), stressed the importance of streamlined supply chain processes and the reduction of waste for sustainable development of agricultural trade and environmental protection.

Government officials and private sector managers in many developing countries and economies in transition are not aware of the latest standards, instruments and best practices that are available to address core structural and regulatory gaps that prevent efficient participation in global trade. The proposed project will provide a method to identify and fill gaps in the collaboration of stakeholders in the supply chain, regulatory compliance and food quality, and promote the use of information technologies and data exchange. The project will help stakeholders to apply available international instruments and best practices developed by ECE, ESCAP, FAO and other organizations, and draw on experience and lessons learned from countries in the region. The project activities will also contribute to the implementation of important trade facilitation instruments discussed in the negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Development Agenda, such as alignment of documents and information exchange in trade and regulatory compliance.

The project will help to analyse business processes from the farm to the point of export, highlight the shortcomings and show how the supply chain can be improved using standards and best practices. It will help decision makers and practitioners to increase export opportunities through better governance, development of sustainable business opportunities and regulatory compliance using electronic information exchange, enhanced and simplified processes, and improved quality of agricultural produce. In addition, the project will foster information and policy exchanges of decision makers during and beyond its life cycle. The training materials and guides developed under the project will be widely disseminated through the joint United Nations-regional commissions approach on trade facilitation.

The target group of the project will include Governments, traders, associations of rural producers and intermediaries of agricultural products in developing and transition economies in the ECE and ESCAP region. ESCAP, through its work with the Asian Development Bank, has extensive expertise in the integration of small- and medium-sized enterprises into agricultural trade, in particular in the greater Mekong Subregion. ECE has extensive competence in the development of agricultural quality standards, providing assistance to countries with the implementation of these standards and other related instruments, in particular business process analysis for supply chains and agricultural quality standards. Two countries from each region will be selected for project pilots. In its work on these measures, ECE worked closely with WTO, the International Trade Centre and UNCTAD.


To strengthen the capacity of selected target countries with economies in transition and developing countries to improve the planning, management and regulation of cross-border agricultural food supply chains in order to support enhanced competitiveness and improved food security

Expected accomplishments:

  • Enhanced understanding and knowledge among public and private sector stakeholders of the latest international standards and best practices for trade facilitation, efficient regulation, information exchange and agriculture food quality in global trade
  • Increased capacity of public and private sector stakeholders to apply standards and best practices in the development of national and sectoral strategies to improve access to sustainable international agricultural food supply chains and to increase export opportunities
  • Strengthened capacity of policymakers and practitioners to exchange experiences and best practices for facilitating enhanced agricultural food supply chains

Implementation status:

Summary of the progress report for 2014

The following activities have taken place/ are ongoing:

  • An inventory of UNECE internally available training materials on best practice and international instruments for enhancing agricultural supply chains has been produced.
  • Contact with several organizations has been established to ensure their participation in the project.
  • In September 2014 regulators (including a regional agricultural trade organization) from the Western Balkan target region were trained in the international instruments available for enhancing cross-border meat supply chains. (The activity was organized during the UNECE Symposium on Meat and the Annual session of the Specialized Section on Standardization of Meat thus taking advantage of the many experts present.)
  • As a result of this workshop, several countries have approached UNECE with requests for priority agricultural sector analyses. One of these analyses has been started in Tajikistan (Central Asian target sub-region).
  • Preliminary work has begun to initiate a second analysis in the Balkan target sub-region (Albania) in early 2015.