Egyptian farmers are seen through a net hole as they pick strawberries at field in Toukh, just outside Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. AP
The signing ceremony was held earlier this week in Cairo and was attended by Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hani Sewilam, and the UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt Elena Panova, according to a statement by the FAO.
The project will support the Egyptian government’s efforts to ensure food security by increasing water productivity in agriculture and resilience to climate change.
It will target small-scale farmers in rural areas of Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta with the introduction of modern irrigation facilities and solar-powered pumps, the installation of agri-voltaic greenhouses and the provision of highly efficient attachments for agricultural tractors and heat and saline-tolerant crop varieties, according to the FAO.
Moreover, the project will collaborate with Tottori University in Japan, known for its expertise in dryland agriculture, and JICA's “Improving Small-scale Farmers' Market-Oriented Agriculture Project” (ISMAP) to increase farmers' incomes.
Al-Mashat said that the project – which is carried out in partnership with the Japanese government and FAO – uses integrated and innovative solutions to achieve food security and support rural communities.
It also contributes to Decent Life initiative (“Haya Karima” in Arabic) and falls within the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2023- 2027 that includes investing in human capital and environmental sustainability, she said.
She added that the project also presents new solutions in transitioning towards a low carbon climate-resilient agriculture sector, while also complementing the country-platform for the Nexus of Water, Food and Energy (NWFE) Program.
For his part, Sewilam said he was grateful to the Japanese government and to FAO for supporting this project which aims to improve the utilisation of water for agriculture, enhance water unit productivity and increase water efficiency.
“Egypt faces many challenges in the water sector, due to its limited water resources and the negative impacts of climate change. Climate change increases water requirements due to high temperatures. Therefore, the Egyptian government is carrying out major projects to increase water use efficiency and maximise water unit productivity,” Sewilam stressed.
On Sunday, Sewilam said that Egypt’s annual share of water is nearly 500 m3 per person.
He added that the United Nations defines water scarcity as 1,000 m3 of water per person annually, which makes Egypt one of the driest countries in the world.
Sewilam also noted that Egypt almost exclusively relies on the waters of the Nile River which comes from outside its borders.
Ambassador Oka asserted that in addressing food security it is important to focus on "each and every human being."
The Japanese government will work closely with the Egyptian government to provide food security, with the aim to deliver affordable, safe and nutritious food to each and every person, Oka said.