Food and water security in the Arab region

March 31, 2011 at 6:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Researchers, development agencies and other partners are exploring new approaches to help ensure food security and long-term environmental sustainability in the Middle East and North Africa. The First Arab Development Symposium on Food and Water Security in the Arab World, organized by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) and the World Bank, was held in Kuwait on 14-15 March. The meeting brought together more than 60 scientists, development experts and policy makers from 14 countries, representing a host of national, regional and international organizations.

H.E. Abdul Latif Al-Hamad (center) inaugurates the First Arab Development Symposium on Food and Water Security

H.E. Abdul Latif Al-Hamad, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Directors of AFESD, outlined the challenges. “Many countries in the region are unable to increase domestic production quickly enough to meet food demand. Water scarcity is approaching critical levels. R&D investment is declining, and adoption of improved technologies has been limited.” He stressed the importance of new integrated approaches to overcome these challenges – such as the regional project on ‘Enhancing food security in Arab countries’ launched in 2010, funded by AFESD, the Kuwait Fund and the Islamic Development Bank, and coordinated by ICARDA.

The symposium was organized around six themes:

  • Developing a strategic framework to achieve food security in the Arab world
  • Water and food security
  • Infrastructure, logistics and post-harvest handling
  • Harnessing research and innovation to achieve food security (with a key presentation by Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General)
  • Impacts of climate change on water resources and agriculture
  • Funding tools and investments in agriculture.

The symposium, held at the AFESD headquarters, was attended by every major player in agricultural development in the region

The discussions helped create a platform for future efforts. Donor agencies, R&D organizations and other stakeholders reiterated their commitment to work together to accelerate agricultural development in the region.

In parallel meetings, Dr Mahmoud Solh and Dr Kamil Shideed, ADG-ICC, met with H.E. Al-Hamad to brief him on ongoing AFESD-ICARDA projects. The AFESD Chairman expressed his appreciation of the progress made, and assured his continued support.

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