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Stakeholders Dialogue on ‘Implementation of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) measures in MSMEs’ in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

The European Union, SWITCH Asia program funded project ‘Resource Efficiency in Agri-food Production and Processing (REAP)’, on Tuesday, 27th July 2021 held a first ever Stakeholder Dialogue on  “Implementation of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) measures in MSMEs”, as a side event at the ‘Central Asia Climate Change Conference 2021’ in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The event brought togetherkey actors from Tajikistan’s and Uzbekistan’s agri-food production and processing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector, namely; Industry associations, Industry cluster representatives, Large food producing companies, relevant public and private institutions, and MSMEs themselves. This event adapted a hybrid format, that means, participants from Uzbekistan joined through video conferencing (zoom).

The first part of the event discussed, how the REAP project can help agri-food production and processing MSMEs in implementation of resource saving measures through Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) methodology, and also, how the project will work with wider stakeholder in strengthening the ecosystem for MSMEs to adapt SCP technologies. Ms. Valeriya Orlova, CAREC,(Project lead organisation) presented the detailed activities planned under the project for MSMEs and ecosystem actors, also emphasised on the major deliverables of the project.  Mr. Stefan Melnitzky and Mr. Markus Möller, Austria Recycling (AREC), provided more information on ground support to MSMEs and showcased benefits of the project interventions through different resource saving case studies. Mr. Amar Munnolimath, adelphi Germany, emphasised on the cleantech finance related activities under the project, especially on access to finance support for highly-motivated MSMEs in implementation of high-cost SCP measures. Mr. Oleg Rijichenko, CCIU Uzbekistan and Ms. Nasibakhon Aminova, NASMB Tajikistan, briefly presented the policy ecosystem for SCP in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan respectively, with some recommendations to improve policy ecosystem.

Mr. Jahongir Babaev, Director of LLC Sitar Agro, Tajikistan, who is also one of the beneficiaries of the REAP project has shared his experience in working with the project, he mentioned “We had a problem in packing of corn. The slightest flaw in the packaging made all products unusable; corn lost its properties and we wouldn’t be able to store it for 18 months. This led in problems with customers, people refused to buy our product, but when we realized our mistakes and corrected them together with the technical consultants of the REAP project, we were able to reduce our costs by 7%. It may seem low, but for the company it is a huge plus, because we did not only reduced packaging cost but also retained confidence of our customers and markets! “

Project team collected feedback on the first session of the event through interactive online feedback platform mentimeter. We are glad to note that the participants really liked such a method of giving feedback even more than expected, since it was both cognitive and informative. Received very satisfactory feedback for the sub-sessions and overall comments on the organisation of the event.

Roundtable Discussions

In second part of the event, a results-oriented roundtable discussions were held to understand the current challenges and opportunities in driving SCP implementations at MSME. It started with the division of participants into two groups – private and public sectors for a deeper discussion on the problems and existing opportunities for SCP implementations and recommendations. Each roundtable team was able to present the results, which will be taken in consideration during the project activities development and implementations.

Summing up, it was possible to identify the main problems of the private sector working in the field of agricultural processing: frequent power outages, quality of raw materials, staff drain, etc. However, at the same time, perspective opportunities have opened up: financial savings, increased market coverage, “profitable waste”.

During the first session, the participants got acquainted with the project and SCP practices. For some, REAP was new, since not everyone was previously familiar with the project. Starting from the second session, everyone was actively involved in the group discussion, the results of these discussions were very much thought provoking for the project team and the relevant state agencies. Ms. Nigina Rajabova, expert on national agricultural policy of the Secretariat of Agrarian Reforms noted, “Back in 2015, having signed the Millennium Development Goals, we already set ourselves an orientation on what to strive for. And, of course, we were very pleased that this project was developed. Indeed, it reflects a lot of important issues that today need to be raised and resolved by the Republic of Tajikistan. Everything related to agriculture is related to opportunities. Therefore, the feedback from our other specialists, which we received today, will allow us to take a broader look at the problem and begin to take the first steps to introduce SCP practices in our country “.

Stakeholder Recommendations

Following are some of the major outcomes/recommendations from the group discussions:

  • Introduction of educational programs – disciplines on SCP in universities or training institutions (agricultural, technological, etc.);
  • Development of SCP legislation and regulations at the state level;
  • Creation of information portals on SCP related knowledge material, financing options, services and best-case implementation, etc.;
  • Development of State programmes or initiatives on SCP practices;
  • To establish an interagency and intersectoral coordination mechanism;
  • Raise awareness on SCP practice in both the private and public sectors;
  • Train specialists (personnel training) on SCP implementation from the private and public sectors;
  • Assist SMEs in access to finance in cooperation with the financial institutions.