Arab countries must pay “serious” attention to improving the management of water and land resources to reduce the “food gap” in the region, a senior agriculture official has warned.
Food security was one of the major challenges facing the region’s agricultural sector, said the director-general of the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD), Dr. Ibrahim Adam Ahmed Al-Dekhairi.
Speaking on Thursday at the 49th meeting of the AOAD’s executive council, being held in Jeddah, Al-Dekhairi stressed that despite making significant strides more work needed to be done to address the issue.
“The AOAD’s reports on the situation of food security in Arab countries have shown that the food gap shrank from $39.4 billion in 2009 to $34.5 billion in 2015,” Al-Dekhairi said. “This is the result of combined Arab efforts and the strategies, plans and programs adopted by Arab states to reduce the food gap in recent years.
“To further reduce the food gap in the Arab region, improving the management of water and land resources and their uses in agriculture must be seriously considered,” the director-general added.
The session of the AOAD, which comes under the umbrella of the Arab League, was also attended by the Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli and the Palestinian Minister of Agriculture Dr. Sufian Abdulrahman Sultan, who chaired the council meeting.
Al-Fadhli said the gathering provided an opportunity to discuss important problems facing the agricultural sector in Arab states, to explore ways of overcoming the challenges, and implement programs and projects aimed at achieving agricultural integration.
Al-Dekhairi noted that the AOAD had reviewed action strategies designed to keep in line with sustainable development goals for 2030.
He also highlighted the “significant strides” made by the AOAD in areas including organizational management, funding sources, private-sector cooperation, partnerships with regional and international bodies, and the use of information and communication technologies.