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Egypt's SSCHR reviews state efforts to bolster 'Right to Food' on occasion of World Food Day

Ahram Online looks at a report issued by the Technical Secretariat of the Permanent Supreme Committee for Human Rights on Egyptian efforts to realize the right to food

Ahmed Morsy , Thursday 15 Oct 2020

On the occasion of celebrating World Food Day, 16 October, the Technical Secretariat of the Egyptian Supreme Standing Committee for Human Rights (SSCHR) issued a report Thursday reviewing state efforts to protect the right to food.

Ahram Online obtained a copy of the SSCHR report which, the committee says, clarifies the national framework to protect the right to food and sheds the light on efforts the Egyptian government has undertaken at the level of operational policies and programmes to enhance its implementation.

On the constitutional framework, the SSCHR said in the report that Article 79 of the Egyptian Constitution is considered "an important step" in terms of placing the right to food within the framework of economic and social rights that the state, with all its agencies and institutions, is committed to uphold.

The report tackled the state's efforts to provide healthy food to the neediest groups by saying that the government has pursued policies and programmes to provide food at subsidised prices to the neediest groups, adding that the value of commodity support allocations during 2020/2021 amounted to EGP 89 billion.

"The number of beneficiaries of the ration card system applied in Egypt is approximately 69 million people. The number of beneficiaries from the bread subsidy system is 79 million citizens. The percentage of bread subsidy from the budget is six percent," the report said.

The technical secretariat noted that the government also contributes to providing basic food commodities at reduced prices through "a disciplined and regular distribution network" consisting of 1,172 branches of companies affiliated with the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade, covering all of Egypt's governorates.

This, the report said, comes in addition to projects implemented by the government such as the "My Society" project, with a total number of 4,605 commodity distribution outlets, targeting to reach 6,000 outlets in 2020.

The SSCHR stated that the constitution, through Article 29, considers agriculture as a basic component of the national economy, and obligates the state to "protect and increase" the agricultural area, criminalise attacks on it, develop agricultural and animal production, and encourage industries that are based on them.

Self-sufficiency ratios of important agricultural crops were raised in Egypt, and strategic crops that support food security were expanded, the report noted.

"The total value of food production in Egypt increased to more than EGP 500 billion in the fiscal year 2017/2018 compared to only EGP 305 billion in 2013/2014," the report said, adding that this indicates a remarkable improvement in the availability of food in the local market.

In 2019, Egypt advanced six places in the Global Food Security Index, where it was ranked 55th in the world, up from 61st in 2018. Egypt also ranked 23rd in the world in the food availability index after it was 39th in 2018, and came in 50th place in the food quality and security index after it was 57th in 2018.

The report highlighted that while the contribution of the Egyptian agricultural sector to the GDP for the year 2019 was approximately 12 percent, the Egyptian Government Action Program (2018-2022) aims to increase the total cropped area to nearly 18 million acres, and raise per acre productivity levels between 15 percent and 25 percent.

In regard to livestock, the government's plan aims to increase production from 950,000 tons in the year 2016/2017 to 1.75 million tons in 2020/2021/2022, which in turn raises the self-sufficiency rate of red meat from 79 to 82 percent in 2021/2022.

It added that the plan aims as well to increase domestic production of milk from about six million tons in the year 2016/2017 to 10.5 million tons on 2021/2022, which raises the self-sufficiency rate from 90 to 99 percent by the end of 2021/2022.

With regard to poultry, the self-sufficiency rate of white meat in Egypt has been raised to about 95 percent, the technical secretariat said.

Regarding governmental efforts to increase awareness of the importance of proper nutrition and reducing food loss and waste, the report said that the state has conducted a number of awareness campaigns to reduce food waste and the role proper nutrition can play in preventing chronic diseases, especially diseases related to malnutrition.

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