October 26, 2015
On October 24, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement (G/A) with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to provide grant aid of up to 596 million yen for the Project for Improvement of Locust Management.
The objective of the project is to improve monitoring so that large outbreaks of locusts can be contained in the early stages, and improve the capacity to eradicate the locusts and address damage in three countries: the Republic of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. JICA will provide the grant funds to the FAO, and the project will be carried out with coordination among the FAO offices in Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Afghanistan.
Employing about two-thirds of the working population, agriculture is the primary means of livelihood in these three countries but accounts for only about 25 percent of the GDP in each, so improving agricultural productivity is a challenge directly linked to raising the standard of living for farmers and alleviating poverty.
One of the reasons for the low agricultural productivity is damage to crops by locusts that swarm periodically. Moreover, locust damage is increasing. In 2011, 158,000 hectares of farmland were damaged in Tajikistan and 227,000 hectares in Afghanistan, and in 2008, 163,000 hectares were damaged in the Kyrgyz Republic.
In this project, efforts will be coordinated among the governments of each of the three countries and FAO to strengthen the capacity to monitor locusts, share information, and eradicate the insects. The project will also contribute to the development of regional cooperation among countries and capacity building for the whole region so that more effective action can be taken against locusts when traveling quickly over a wide area..
Through these measures, the project will reduce the crop damage caused by locusts, improve food safety in the three countries, and by extension improve the living environment in Central Asia and the Caucasus overall.
Japan and Central Asian countries agreed to promote regional cooperation in the field of agriculture at the Fifth Foreign Minister’s Meeting, Central Asia plus Japan, held in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2014, and implementation of this project will be carried out with coordination from all Central Asian countries.