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Keynote Address by Mr. Arefaine Berhe, the Minister of Agriculture, on World Food Day

Invited Guests!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
At the outset I would like to express my profound gratitude to all of you for taking your time to participate in the observance of World Food Day 2015.
Today, we are here to celebrate the 35th observance of the World Food Day Globally and the 22nd in Eritrea. It was also on this day that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was born 70 years ago.
Happy Birthday FAO.
This year’s theme is “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty”

 

In order for every one of us to be on the same page, social protection consists of policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labor markets, diminishing people’s exposure to risks and enhancing their capacity to manage economic and social risks such as unemployment, exclusion, sickness, disability and old age.

As you may appreciate it almost all the elements of social protection are very dear to the Government of Eritrea and form the core of our development policy and strategy even though there might be gaps in their efficient implementation.

If we take agriculture, which is the topic of today, which indeed is the mainstay of the economy employing at least 60% of the population, the government’s social protection clearly stands out.

As I outlined it last year the government’s policy is to undertake climate-smart sustained agriculture based on elaborate soil and water conservation programs at catchment and farm level.

The principle is harvesting water and rational utilization of the harvested water through micro-irrigation powered by alternative energy mainly solar at a community level.

The final destination is increasing production and productivity of agriculture thereby producing, abundant, quality, safe and nutritious products in order to achieve food and nutrition security and eliminate poverty in the rural population.

The activities of soil and water conservation and the results are clearly displayed in the posters around you.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen let me remind you of one paragraph from the statement I made last year in order to shed more light into the Government’s social protection approach and I quote “As you can see around you everything is green thanks to the gracious and evenly distributed rains this year.

As a result, we are expecting bumper harvest. However, achieving good harvest during good rains is not the way out.

As Eritrea is located in the drought prone area of Africa we have to increasingly work on soil and water conservation programs like tree planting, establishing closures and construction of check dams and terraces.” end of quote.

This year the harvest is expected to be far from bumper. But we are not surprised nor despaired as we are very cognizant that this fluctuations may occur before we get to the sustained level.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, as the world is moving forward from the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) to the sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) Eritrea is already on track and will certainly contribute its fair share to the world where not even a single person will be left behind in poverty and hunger come 2030.

Last, but not least, the progress that we are registering in agriculture would not have been possible without the active participation of our partners and at this juncture, I call upon all of our partners to strengthen their cooperation.
In conclusion, I express my appreciation to the organizing committee, and the “Wari” cultural group for a job well-done.

Thank you for your attention!
16/10/2015

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