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FAO agrees on regional priorities for Near East and North Africa

By : JD

Jordan Daily – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said on Thursday it has reached a consensus with its member states in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) on the programme priorities for the 2024-25 biennium.

In a statement sent to Jordan Daily ,the priorities include accelerating the transformation of regional agrifood systems to achieve sustainable agriculture development and food security and nutrition, amid multiple crises facing the region.

The agreement came after a four-day Senior Officer’s Meeting (SOM) that ended today with ministers of agriculture, partner organizations, and senior officials of member countries. The SOM is part of the 37th Session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East (NERC37), to be concluded at the Ministerial Meeting on March 4-5 in Amman, Jordan.

Dr. Nizar Haddad, Director-General of the National Agriculture Research Center in Jordan, was elected as Chairperson of the SOM. The virtual event was attended by around 200 participants who discussed regional challenges and best practices to transform agrifood systems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Near East and North Africa, said conflict is a major factor behind the high rate of undernourishment in some countries in the region.

“Conflict remains an unavoidable catalyst for the worsening of an already fragile state of food insecurity and nutrition and that’s why a big portion of our capacity building work in this past biennium was dedicated to capacity building in conflict contexts,” he said.

The SOM also addressed regional conflicts, highlighting the situation in Gaza, the Red Sea and Sudan. Members countries called for ensuring food security and nutrition and protecting agrifood systems and livestock in conflict-affected areas, especially in Gaza.

FAO held four dedicated sessions during the SOM to highlight pertinent regional issues, such as the strategic initiatives by FAO regional office, the need for sustainable Water-Energy-Food Nexus approaches and practices, and the role of small-scale fisheries in national food systems.

In a conversation with small-scale fisheries stakeholders from government and research, discussions highlighted how Illuminating Hidden Harvests (IHH) methods, findings and related activities can inform the understanding of national small-scale fisheries and contribute to improvements in policy, legislation, statistics and monitoring as well as targeted support and recognition of small-scale fisheries.

“ On behalf of the Jordanian government, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the delegates of the member countries who participated in the Senior Officers’ Meeting of the 37th Session of FAO Regional Conference for the Near East. It is with deep honor that I accepted the responsibility of chairing the sessions.The meeting was characterized by fruitful exchanges and robust strategic and technical dialogues, which will significantly enhance the recommendations to be presented at the upcoming ministerial meeting scheduled for March 4-5 in the Jordanian capital, Amman,” said Dr. Nizar Haddad, Director-General of the National Agriculture Research Center in Jordan

“Furthermore, I express my sincere appreciation to all the dedicated staff of the Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as the representatives of participating countries, for their invaluable and constructive contributions to the success of the meeting” Haddad added.

Additionally during the SOM, FAO, in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Global Forum on Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), launched the Arab Forum for Rural Advisory Services (AFRAS), working towards the acceleration of rural advisory services and inclusive and sustainable rural transformation.

AFRAS is a regional collaborative network dedicated to advancing extension and rural advisory services across Arab countries. It aims to foster networking, knowledge and information sharing and exchange of experience among RAS stakeholders from different sectors.

The second and final segment of NERC37 will be the Ministerial Session, which will convene in the host country Amman, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on 4 and 5 March 2024.

The Ministerial Session will gather high-level representation of government ministers and leaders from across the region to frame a regional agreement on the way forward and joint action to achieve a sustainable agrifood system making it more fit-for-purpose and to ensure food security for millions of the region’s population.

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