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World Food Day and Eradication of Poverty commemorated (Speech delivered by Minister of Agriculture Mr. Arefaine Berhe)

World Food Day and Eradication of Poverty commemorated (Speech delivered by Minister of Agriculture Mr. Arefaine Berhe)

Mr. Moderator!

Ms. Susan Namondo Ngongi
UN Resident Coordinator

Mr. Saeed A. Bancie
FAO Representative in   Eritrea!

High Government, PFDJ and   Army  Officials!

Excellences Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps.!

Religious Leaders!

Members of the Farming Community!

Invited Guests!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I welcome you all for taking your time to participate in this very important workshop which deals with the most important aspect of our being.  It is said that a person is a function of his (her) nutrition and this year’s theme can not be more appropriate.  It goes “Our Actions are our Future, Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World”.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

As you can all appreciate, the International Organizations, including the FAO were only talking about Food Security until 2014 when the FAO and WHO jointly organized a widely publicized Nutrition Conference at the FAO premises in Rome.  Since then, the issue of nutrition is getting prominence even though the attention it deserves is not yet achieved.  Globally, it is still termed as food security and nutrition instead of food and nutrition security.  However, I like to acknowledge that we are working very closely with FAO on this subject at a national and regional level.

According to FAO’s information package which was prepared for this year’s World Food Day, “Those people who do not have regular access to enough nutrition, are at a greater risk of various forms of malnutrition.  Malnutrition affects one in three people and can take the form of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, stunting, wasting, overweight and obesity.  Unhealthy diet is a leading risk factor for deaths from non-communicable diseases including heart diseases, diabetes and certain cancers.

Please note that malnutrition was, until very recently, taught that it was the problem of poorly fed people in the developing world.  Now we know that health problems linked to obesity in the advanced developing and developed countries is costing national health budgets up to 2 trillion US dollars per year.

Considering the above bleak picture, we have to change the way we produce and consume food.  Diverse cereal crops, vegetables and fruits as well as livestock products and byproducts must be used in the right proportion and size for better nutrition.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

In Eritrea it has been quite some time, at least since 2013 that we have consistently termed our objective as achieving food and nutrition security.  Not only that, we have also come up with a clear strategy to implement this on the ground.  The Minimum Integrated Household Agricultural Package, or MIHAP in short, is the best example which is being exercised at a small holder level with the objective of providing nutritious food to the respective family and four others.  This includes cereals, vegetables and fruits, milk, eggs, meat and honey.  Recently in collaboration with the Ministry of Marine Resources, fish which are grown in dams is also being added to the diet.  Apart from this, the Ministries of Health, Marine Resources, Trade and Industry, Agriculture and the Standards Institution are working very closely together to address the issue of nutrition and especially that of children under the age of 5.

We have also developed another clear strategy for the small and medium commercial farmers to go from mono cropping to integrated agriculture involving crops and livestock so they too can get for themselves and the market the required nutritious food.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Producing nutritious food is one thing but preparing nutritious meal is a different ball-game.  This is the subject that we are working very closely with the FAO thanks to the active engagement of the FAO Eritrea Representative and his team.  We hope we can make a dent on this important issue as soon as possible to achieve a Zero Hunger before the dead line of 2030

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Considering the complexity of nutrition, it is expected that more actors will be involved than is already the case.  Therefore, I call on all government, UN, EU and other relevant partners to work closely together in order to make a difference on our nutrition status and especially of children under the age of five.

Before I conclude, I would like to share with this August body that Eritrea is poised for a bumper harvest.  This is due to the gracious rains with good spatial and temporal distribution as well as the hard work of the farmers and the active engagement of the government.

Last, but not least, I congratulate the Organizing Committee and artist Habtewold Mesghenna for a job well done.

I thank you for your attention
16 October 2019

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