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Egypt and FAO: 40 years of partnership for sustainable agriculture and food security

Ahram Online, Saturday 27 Oct 2018
FAO Rep in Egypt, Hussein Gadain
Dr. Hussein Gadain, FAO Representative in Egypt (Photo Courtesy of FAO website)
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United Nations (UN) day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the security Council, the United Nations officially came into being.

On the occasion of the celebration of the United Day on 24 October, the UN conducted a series of interviews exclusively for Ahram Online. We end the series with an article written by Dr. Hussein Gadain, a Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representative in Egypt.

Egypt and FAO: 40 years of partnership for sustainable agriculture and food security

Egypt is a founding member of the FAO. It hosted the first FAO regional office in North Africa and the Near East in 1952. Afterwards, in 1978, FAO representation in Egypt was established and a long-term relationship of support started.

Since 1978, FAO Representation in Egypt has been a key player in several agricultural and rural development activities that are best suited for Egypt’s needs. FAO provided technical assistance in the areas of policy advice, strategy development, capacity building and information management. In all, FAO has contributed more than 170 projects with a total investment of more than EGP 3 billion. Its investment led to major outputs.

An example of FAO’s support is the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee on food security policy to facilitate dialogue, regulatory measures, and strategies.

FAO also supported the government in developing the Sustainable Agricultural Development Strategy "Towards 2030," along with the national policy for sustainable reuse of wastewater in agriculture, and the strategy for the development of the date palm sector in Egypt.

With FAO’s support, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation has identified a cropping pattern for optimizing the use of shrinking water resources and for informing people about climate change risks and responses.

FAO’s capacity development work included the establishment of a unit to support the Ministry of Agriculture in monitoring avian influenza as part of the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), the formation of Egypt’s Food Security Policy Advisory Board, and the creation of a National Dialogue Platform for cooperatives and capacity building for food loss reduction.

Promoting diversified and healthy eating is done via the food security and nutrition project targeting women and youth, which has brought changes to the diets of over 7000 beneficiaries and that established a revolving fund of over $1 million distributed to poor women.

Moreover, FAO supported Triangular and South-South Cooperation activities between Egypt and five other African countries.

Agriculture remains the backbone of Egypt’s food security, and in turn is a requirement for bettering employment rates, poverty reduction efforts and the empowerment of rural populations.

Because of this, FAO’s support in the future (2018-2022) will focus on the following Egyptian priorities: Improved agricultural productivity, raising the degree of food security, raising the degree of food security in strategic food commodities and sustainable use of natural agricultural resources.

These priorities contribute to 10 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, namely: 1. No poverty; 2. Zero hunger; 6. Clean water and sanitation; 8. Decent work and economic growth; 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure; 12. Responsible consumption and production; 13. Climate action; 14. Life below water; 15. Life on land and 17. Partnerships for the goals.

Egypt has made good progress in agriculture both spatially (in terms of land reclamation) and vertically (in terms of productivity).

I would like to advise the Egyptian people to change their diet and eating habits and also urge the Government of Egypt to invest in food safety issues, and encourage parliamentarians to come up with legislation that favor the agricultural sector so as to increase public and private investments.

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