Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon discuss agricultural cooperation, food security

Iraq Syria Lebanon Jordan
(Photo: Petra)
AMMAN — Jordanian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Lebanese ministers of agriculture on Sunday met in Amman to explore solutions that address food insecurity and strengthen agricultural exchange among the four nations, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.اضافة اعلان

The two-day event is a follow up on a similar meeting held in Beirut in July this year; its aim is to assess the progress made so far in advancing cooperation in agriculture and food security.

During the two-day meeting, ministers will also discuss ways to improve their countries’ food security, address water scarcity, prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and combat desert locusts.

They are also expected to devise a plan to promote trade and investment, including the exchange of fertilizers, pesticides, medication, veterinary vaccines, improved seeds, and plant and animal products. To facilitate trade, a unified agricultural calendar will also be created.

The ministers will meet with regional directors of various international organizations operating in their countries to discuss ways to collaborate in the areas of food security, climate change, agricultural commodity flow, and agricultural investment prospects. Jordan will also consider acting as a regional and strategic food security observatory.

Minister of Agriculture Khaled Al-Hneifat highlighted the serious challenges faced by the countries of the region due to climate change, crises, wars, and turmoil, which have disrupted most agricultural, tourism, cultural, and intraregional trade.

“The four countries have endured international crises over the last two years, beginning with the corona virus and its repercussion on individuals, the economy, supply chains, and cross-border trade, followed by the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, which directly affected the food supply,” he said.

Hneifat also said that inflation and the increase in oil prices resulted in an increase in the prices of production inputs and energy-related services, such as sea, air, and land shipping, prompting the need to accelerate the implementation of common solutions to mitigate the crisis with the least possible losses.

“Jordan was aware of the challenges early on and managed to develop, adopt, and implement a comprehensive food security strategy in collaboration with UN organizations, during which food security-related policies were reviewed, while creating a national umbrella to ensure the availability, continuity, and stability of food during crises,” he said.

The minister emphasized the importance of establishing a regional food security observatory, where local and international expertise can come together to collect and analyze food security data, enabling decision makers to predict food crises, develop appropriate prevention policies, and find effective and urgent solutions.

He also expressed Jordan’s willingness to host the UN World Food Program’s (WFP) soon-to-be-established regional center for relief and emergency aid, which will play a critical role in improving regional food security.

Hneifat reaffirmed the need for such meetings to be held by the four nations at all levels, to discuss issues like agricultural and veterinary quarantine, and transport and transit procedures, and to develop joint projects in collaboration with international organizations.

The minister praised the participation of international organizations, particularly the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Development Program (UNDP), as well as of regional organizations such as the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD), the WFP, and many others.

Syrian Minister of Agriculture Mohammad Hassan Qatna stated that the four nations’ ability to deal with the effects of global crises, such as food shortages, disruptions in the energy and food markets, and transportation issues, would be improved through cooperation and agricultural economic integration.

He said cooperation helps enhance the four countries’ capacity to deal with the effects of climate change on natural resources and agricultural activities.

“In light of the world turmoil and shifts, it has become necessary and a key national interest for our four countries to focus on steps that could bring stability and food security, by facilitating the exchange of products and information, as well as through joint cooperation to develop production and increase the efficiency of use of natural resources,” he said.

Iraqi Minister of Agriculture Mohammad Karim Khafaji emphasized the significance of food security to political and economic stability, and emphasized the importance of utilizing all available resources for joint investments in the agricultural sector of the four countries in order to lay the groundwork for a regional food security system.

To cut down on protein, fertilizer, pesticide, vaccine, veterinary medicine, and pest control program production costs, the minister urged an integrated agricultural calendar, fodder cultivation, livestock breeding, and integrated joint projects.

Lebanese Minister of Agriculture Abbas Hajj Hassan said that meeting such as theirs are proof of a unified Arab partnership, indicating that this stage requires joint interaction and integration to enhance food security as a strategic objective for the four nations.

He referred to His Majesty King Abdullah’s speech at the UN on the dangers of food security as a shared concern, stating that “we must all interact and cooperate to achieve a stable stage for our present and future”.

Representatives of FAO, AOAD, WFP, the Islamic Organization for Food Security, Arab Center for Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands, and the UNDP attended the meetings.

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