Switzerland joins Austria with funding for the project on supporting agri-producers affected by the socio-economic and energy crisis

Crina Dumitriu
Foto: PNUD Moldova

Switzerland offers US$2million for the project “Emergency support for agri-producers in the context of socio-economic and energy crisis”, implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project, started in 2022, is funded with another $2million by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC), through the Moldova 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Partnerships Trust Fund.

“Switzerland has been a reliable partner of Moldova, providing both emergency and long-term development assistance. Last year, among others, we contributed to the Energy Vulnerability Reduction Fund that helped citizens pay their energy bills during the cold season. Now, through this new contribution, we will support agri-producers switch to renewable energy resources and improve their energy efficiency. This is needed not only during an energy crisis, but also in view of making agricultural practices more efficient and future-oriented. Over the years, Switzerland also made important contributions to the technological development of the agricultural sector by facilitating the introduction of modern technologies,” noted Guido Beltrani, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in the Republic of Moldova.

Thanks to Swiss funding, 45 women agri-producers from six districts of the Republic of Moldova – Hîncești, Ungheni, Telenești, Sîngerei, Șoldănești and Briceni – will benefit from grants offered via UNDP for the transition to renewable energy and use of energy-efficient technologies.

“We welcome Swiss Cooperation in Moldova contribution, thanks to which 45 women – 15 small and medium and 30 micro agri-producers – will benefit from support to increase their businesses’ energy resilience and have decent incomes for their families, through creating additional jobs in their communities,” said Daniela Gasparikova, UNDP Resident Representative to the Republic of Moldova.

With funding from Austria, another 30 grants will be offered for the implementation of renewable energy solutions and energy-efficient technologies such as biomass boilers in greenhouses or photovoltaic installations to mitigate the negative effects of Russia’s war of aggression as well as the ongoing drought in Moldova.

Gunther Zimmer, Head of the Austrian Development Agency’s office in Chisinau, welcomes the Swiss contribution, which he believes will “help reach more vulnerable beneficiaries and alleviate their urgent needs in the context of the socio-economic, climate and energy crisis in the Republic of Moldova”.

Concurrently, the Swiss funding, via FAO, will have a significant impact in increasing the number of beneficiaries receiving agriculture inputs support to 12,000, which means an additional 5,000 beneficiaries, with particular attention to youth and households run by women.

As the prices of agriculture inputs remain at historically high levels due to supply chain disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine while the farm gate prices of agriculture products have drastically decreased compared to last year, as a result of the abandonment of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, FAO will continue to provide the much-needed seeds, seedlings, fertilizers, and animal fodder to smallholder farmers and vulnerable households. It will enable them to secure the forthcoming cropping seasons and feed the livestock.

Moreover, the Swiss funding will also facilitate the promotion of farmers' cooperation, providing opportunities for learning and adopting climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices through the Farmer Field School extension approach. FAO will actively facilitate knowledge exchange amongst farmers, providing informational materials and guides to ensure the effective management of the production process at all levels.

"This funding is crucial in our mission of leaving no one behind, as it is addressing food security and agricultural challenges in the country. By providing resources and expertise, the funding enhances the resilience of small-scale agricultural producers, empowers women in the sector, and promotes sustainable practices. It will also help improve access to markets, generate income, and ensure the availability of nutritious food. Ultimately, this funding plays a vital role in driving positive change and sustainable development in Moldova's agricultural sector," said Tudor Robu, Assistant FAO Representative in the Republic of Moldova.

At the same time, the Swiss funding enables FAO to enhance the capacity of nearly 200 women small-scale agricultural producers from different districts of the Republic of Moldova to access markets and engage in income-generating activities with a focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. Beneficiaries will receive training on food safety and quality standards, as well as product labeling, which will enable them to effectively market their products and increase their income. Additionally, a series of grants will be offered in support of their activities.

According to the estimates of the Government of the Republic of Moldova, the war in Ukraine could cost the economy of the Republic of Moldova 2-10% of the country's total GDP, depending on the duration, intensity, and territorial coverage. At the same time, 70% of small farms already suffer from lack of resources, inputs, and arid weather conditions.

Crina Dumitriu

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