Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Turkey come together to reinforce the role of volunteers in the fight to eliminate hunger and obtain global food security.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of food security like never before. UN Volunteers are playing an important role in fighting hunger during the global crisis. Currently, there are 51 UN Volunteers serving with FAO globally, including 12 UN Volunteers in Europe and Central Asia region.
The partnership between FAO and UNV actually dates back to the 1970s. The first UN Volunteers set out to South West Asia and Africa to ensure the transfer of agricultural technologies and help farmers in irrigation and agricultural techniques, --Nil Memişoğlu, UNV Turkey Country Coordinator.
Former UN Volunteer Eda Pütgül joined an event, organized by the FAO and the UNV for the World Food Day in 2020. It was an opportunity to speak with the young generation about food security within the agricultural sector. For over a year Eda served as a national UN Volunteer in the role of Programme Assistant with FAO Turkey. In her UN Volunteer assignment she assisted in two projects of FAO: Strengthening Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services and Strengthening Agricultural Infrastructure Services with The Context Of Global Soil Partnership.
During her assignment, Eda visited farmers and assisted in educational programmes. At the same time, she herself gained knowledge about agricultural systems and terminology. Eda’s experience in the field and the opportunity to speak with farmers and witness their needs became invaluable for her. Consequently, Eda decided to enroll in a Master's programme on development at Sapienza University in Rome.
Things that seem very small can in fact change the whole world if applied by enough people in their daily life. There is a guide called “Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World” prepared by the UN. There you can find lots of small ideas for big impact, --Eda Pütgül, former UN Volunteer with FAO.
During this event, other #FoodHeroes were showcased. The co-founder of Anadolu Meraları, Durukan Dudu explained the concept of restorative agriculture. Head of the Women Farmers Ecological Education and Production Center (KAÇEM), Fatma Andaç shared how she turned towards organic agriculture after the training she received from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Production Designer and Director of Agriculture Is Our Future Documentary, Cenk Oruç pointed out that agriculture is a source of life despite being an industry. While Merve Ozkorkmaz presented her Otama Kırkpınar organic cosmetics with responsible production and plastic-free packaging. FAO’s goodwill ambassador Dilara Kocak was the moderator of the panel.
Likewise, at the event, FAO and UNV Turkey offered their gratitude to volunteers who serve and contributed to the food and agricultural sector. The event has planted the idea of seeking more #FoodHeroes reaching out to communities about food security and their needs.
The FAO-UNV partnership extends to other countries in the region as well. In Albania, FAO supports the Government in defining and implementing its National Determined Contribution (NDC) in the Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use (AFOLU) sector. Jiyoung Nam funded by The Republic of Korea is serving with FAO Albania as a Climate Change Specialist for several related projects.
The international UN Volunteer coordinates NDC Partnership focal points and international and national consultants. Jiyoung supports a project that builds capacities of women and youth farmers for a more sustainable income. As well, she is a part of a project which tackles natural resource management to improve soil fertility and combat land and soil degradation.
Excellent local organic products which are hardly found in the regular markets in the city because of their limited capacity in logistics, marketing, are to be supported through our projects, --Jiyoung Nam, Climate Change Specialist UN Volunteer with FAO Albania.
Jiyoung also believes in the critical role of the women farmers to make this system enduring and functioning smoothly. As a UN Volunteer, she advocates for gender action from FAO with stakeholders for the development of the UN Cooperation Framework in the country.