- Effective partnerships and multilateral cooperation among all relevant parties can ensure food security
- As development partners are committed to support the African transition to sustainable agriculture, building international partnerships based on cooperation will lead to better progress in food security
Cairo, Egypt: A collaborative effort to invest in agriculture, agri-tech solutions and infrastructure can be a key driver in addressing Africa’s food security challenges, and make a significant contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), serving the African continent.
This was the consensus on the second day of the inaugural Egypt – International Cooperation Forum (Egypt – ICF),a two-day event championing the role of multilateralism in achieving sustainable development, launched by the country’s Ministry of International Cooperation.
The session, entitled ‘Food Security and Employment in the Digital Age in Africa’, convened several ministers from across the continent, alongside representatives of development partners. Each underlined the importance of the agricultural sector in their respective countries and how the introduction of modern technologies can accelerate its ability to meet the needs of food security and rural development.
That position was advocated first by H.E. Al-Sayed Al-Qusayr, Egypt’s Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, who noted that agriculture can lead the sustainable development agenda. “Agriculture is a sector that can reach every corner of the country, and it can provide employment and produce in the most remote and least developed areas – so this is genuine sustainable development.”
H.E. Dr Rania A. Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, used the Luxor Coordination Center for Knowledge Sharing and Innovation to Promote Resilience in Upper Egypt as a model for how productive partnerships can drive sustainable development in Africa.
“The work we have done with the World Food Programme (WFP), and how we have been able to work with farmers to move from more traditional ways of farming, from diesel-powered irrigation to solar, is a great example of coordination between local agencies and international partners,” she said.
Al-Qusayr added that while there are challenges, support and investment from the private sector, particularly in technology. “Egypt is keen on supporting the Egyptian farmer and improving his living standard,” he said, adding that the agricultural sector is intertwined with growth, lying at the heart of development.
H.E. Mahmoud Sharawi, Egypt’s Minister of Local Development, agreed that agriculture can be a tool of development, suggesting that employment is a key driver of food security. “This is one of the reasons why the presidential initiative, Hayah Karima (Decent Life) , came about to help vulnerable communities in Upper Egypt.”
“We worked with the private sector, universities and the World Food Programme (WFP) to enhance agricultural products, improve their distribution and also develop and promote handicraft industries. It has become one of the most important projects in Egypt and sustains 18 million people,” he said.
H.E. Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform of Namibia, was keen to emphasize that food security must be tackled at global, regional and domestic levels.
“I believe that Africa has room for improvement, in data collection, more accurate prediction, accurate soil studies, we can save so much money, and with that money, we can boost production,” said Schlettwein.
H.E. Dr. Aly El-Moselhy, Egypt’s Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, highlighted the potential for digital transformation in addressing the opportunities of food security from the perspective of infrastructure. “When we talk about food security, it’s important that we don’t just talk about production, or just talk about manufacturing. We must include logistics and the last-mile delivery to the consumer,” he said.
About the Egypt – International Cooperation Forum:
The Egypt — International Cooperation Forum (Egypt — ICF) is a two-day global event that convenes the international community to drive a sustainable recovery through multilateralism.
Organized by Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation, the Forum is being held in Cairo, Egypt, between 8-9 September 2021 in a hybrid format – allowing both physical and virtual attendance.
The Egypt — ICF provides a unique global platform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, to bring together international policymakers, multilateral and bilateral development partners, private sector stakeholders, civil society and think tanks to collaboratively reboot international cooperation through economic diplomacy in the post-pandemic era.
The Forum aims to foster a collective international commitment to accelerate the transition to a green and inclusive global recovery, catalyze social mobility in Africa and tackle climate change.
The Egypt — ICF is co-organized with leading international development institutions, including: the United Nations, the World Bank Group, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).