Sustainable agriculture is an engine for accelerating economic growth in Egypt as well as other countries, the regional representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the Near East and North Africa, and Assistant Director-General Abdul Salam Weld Ahmed, said.
This came during the conference which was organised by the Institute of National Planning (INP), on Saturday entitled ‘Promoting Sustainable Agriculture.’
Food security is related to all the United Nations 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which aim to achieve the prosperity of UN members, Ahmed said, confirming that the SDGs are quite comprehensive and integrated.
Furthermore, he also said that addressing the challenges that still face the countries requires promoting the role of planning institutions, and praised Egypt’s presentation of the voluntary report to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which was organised from 9 to 18 July 2018, at the UN headquarters in New York.
Noteworthy, regarding the key messages of Egypt Voluntary National Review report 2018, Egypt certified its commitment to progress toward achieving the SDGs in order to ensure that Egypt’s Sustainable Development Strategy, Egypt Vision 2030, is in line with the global SDGs.
Ahmed also called on countries to adapt strategies which face the climate change challenges, in order to support agriculture sector.
For his part, Alaa Zahran, president of the INP, said that the agriculture is key for the food processing sector, affirming the importance of increasing the technological role in supporting the sector as a vital part of the governmental programme.
“We suffered from unsustainable agricultural practices that led to high costs. Now it’s very important to adopt new sustainable agricultural measures. We are happy to have the full support of the FAO,” he said, adding that Egypt seeks the full use of the available resources to increase food production in a sustainable way.
Sustainable agriculture is a very important concept at the national and global levels, which is reflected in the Sustainable Development Strategy document: Egypt’s Vision 2030, the medium-term sustainable development plan and the government’s programme, Zahran declared.
Moreover, Zahran added that despite Egypt’s exerted efforts which aimed to sustain production in the agricultural sector and its various production and service activities, more efforts are still needed to achieve the ambitious targets of the SDGs.
The Egyptian agriculture sector faces a number of challenges, most notably the limited water resources and thus a gap between resources and uses, and rapid population growth, which resulted in a steady decline in per capita agricultural area, he pointed out.
Agriculture is the most vulnerable sector to climate change, Jean Marc Faures, a senior agronomist and water resources management specialist said, noting that the SDGs can support counties to achieve food security targets.
“There should be responsible consumption actions. We are living in the world that is increasingly urbanised and if we aim at a resilient agriculture sector, we should be committed to using green and clean energy,” he added.
Faures also called for increasing agriculture investments, promoting agriculture’s contribution to the GDP, as well as adapting governance measures that can find solutions for the climate change, and praised Egypt’s cooperation with international institutions in the field of agriculture.
Notably, the FAO assistance in Egypt is shaped by the 2018-2022 FAO Country Programming Framework (CPF), which focuses on three government priority areas: improved agricultural productivity, raising the degree of food security in strategic food commodities, and sustainable use of natural agricultural resources, according to the FAO’s website.
The government’s first priority of improving agricultural productivity will be achieved through several strategies, plans and programmes developed for agricultural extension and veterinary services of government agencies, NGOs, CSOs, private sector companies, banks for sustainable agriculture, enhanced capacities for developing early warning systems, and frameworks for agricultural Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
The first priority will be achieved through strategies and plans developed to increase productivity of the small-scale dairy farming sub-sector via improved breeding, feeding, and bio-security, as well as enhanced facilities for collection, transportation, and storage, to improve the small-scale dairy farming sector in order to secure local supply.
The government will seek to enhance regulations and frameworks of sanitary, sustainable agriculture, and good hygienic practices, in addition to strengthening surveillance, control, and early warning of trans-boundary animal diseases and zoonoses, plant pests, and fish diseases.
The country, along with the FAO, will strengthen national capacities in research and development (R&D) on modern technologies for inland and marine aquaculture production, and post-harvest handling in addition to enhancing Information Management Systems (IMS) for agricultural policies, food security monitoring and evaluation; and the fortification of national capacities in information exchange and technology transfer for further enhancement of agricultural productivity.
The FAO and the Egyptian government will also develop innovative technologies and practices to increase water productivity and availability in irrigated agriculture and for climate change adaptation.