Challenges for Europe and Central Asia

| Foreign Markets |

A regional conference organized by FAO was held in Bucharest in the first week of April. One of the main conclusions following the experts’ meeting is as follows: it is not hunger, but malnutrition resulting from micronutrient deficiency and low calorie value of meals that is the most important problem for Europe and Central Asia.

The scope

The delegates focused on three sub-regions: CCA (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), CIS (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova) and SEE (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey). The main topics of the conference were the analysis of research on nutrition and food supply safety in the region.

Current issues

Three out of the above-mentioned countries, namely Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, maintain an alarming level of malnutrition, reaching 5% of each population. Lack of vitamins and minerals, which are vital for children development and growth, results mainly from the monotonous diet, largely relying on starch-rich produce and inadequate amounts of dairy products and meat. Minerals deficiency also stems from the inadequate calorie content of the food and its sourcing. For example, in Uzbekistan as many as 73% of calories consumed comes from cereals, and as few as 10% from meat and dairy products. One more issue is obesity, which afflicts about 50% of the inhabitants of all three sub-regions. Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina lead the embarassing ranking, with 60% of their population weighing too much.

Goals for the future

One of the key guidelines set to particular countries by FAO is to reduce the malnutrition level to under 1% by 2050. What we need to focus on is the accessibility and stability of food supply in the regions under discussion. This may be achieved through reinforcing local farming, investing in it and boosting the productivity of farms. However, the very start of the transformation involves implementing the necessary administrative regulations. It is the governments of the countries afflicted with problems which should come up with proposals of changes in legislation.