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Message of the Ministry of Agriculture

Message of the Ministry of Agriculture in connection with the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Message of the Ministry of Agriculture in connection with
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
June 17, 2020


According to a statistical report of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD),

•    Today, more than two billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded.

•    Over 70 per cent of natural ecosystems are affected by human use. By 2050, this could reach 90 per cent, unless we change.

•    By 2030, food production will require an additional 300 million hectares of land.

•    By 2030, the fashion industry is predicted to use 35 per cent more land – which is over 115 million hectares.

•    Clothing and footwear production causes 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, a figure predicted to rise almost 50 per cent by 2030.

•    Dietary change can free up between 80 and 240 million hectares of land. Eliminating waste can free up land used to produce 1.3 billion tons of food, which has a footprint of 1.4 billion hectares.

Therefore, this year’s theme “Food, Feed, Fibre” draws attention to the link between production, consumption, and land.

•    The focus is raising awareness and changing public attitudes that humanity’s relentless production and consumption is a leading driver of desertification and land degradation, meaning the decisions we make as individuals matter.

•    There is far greater demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre for clothing to support growing populations, human’s changing lifestyles and consumer behaviour. Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, worsened by climate change.

•    The consumption of food, feed, fibre is also contributing to climate change, with around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture, forestry and other land use. This rises to about a third of the emissions when you add the costs in the entire supply chain.

•    Simple changes in diet and behaviours – such as cutting food waste, buying from local markets and swapping clothes instead of always buying new – can free up land for other uses, lower carbon emissions and improve our quality of life.

•    In our globalized world, the food we eat, and the clothes we wear impact land thousands of miles away but every one of us can protect the land by making simple changes in our lives. We can support community resilience, maintain the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services and contribute to reducing the impact on global poverty and food insecurity, made worse by recurring disasters and diseases like the COVID-19.

•    To build back better from COVID-19, we must create a new social contract for nature. If we chose to work in harmony with nature, we will avoid waste and future land degradation, we will reduce carbon emissions and reverse biodiversity loss.

•    Land is part of the solution to deliver on targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals; scaling land restoration and nature-based solutions bring multiple co-benefits.

•    UNCCD parties have earmarked degrading areas for restoration by 2030 to ensure land conversion to meet the global demand for food needed by 2050 is necessary.
Eritrea’s context

Since most of Eritrean people depend on Agriculture for livelihood, land is a centre of gravity for most of our policies. For this reason, the Government of Eritrea has been working prudently to improve land productivity and minimizing land degradation. On and off farm Soil and water conservation programs; construction of different kinds of water reservoirs as well as launching the Greening Campaign are among major initiatives of the government of Eritrea towards restoring degraded land and thereby improving land productivity. However, Eritrea’s natural location makes it prone to adverse effects of drought and desertification. This natural challenge is also aggravated by various man made interferences like tree cutting for fire wood and agricultural expansion; overgrazing and so on.

In order to mitigate the effects of drought and desertification in Eritrea, the following focus areas are reinforced;

–    Promoting community based activities to improve land productivity

–    Harvesting water, from all kinds of sources, for its best use in improving agricultural productivity

–    Introducing sustainable alternative energy sources to minimize tree cutting

–    Raising awareness of the public on environment conservation in general and on soil fertility conservation in particular

–    Fostering international and regional engagements through pragmatic initiatives

Currently, the world is suffering from the catastrophic effects of COVID-19. Food and Nutrition are also obviously affected by this pandemic. Hence, to mitigate effects of this pandemic in food supply, we need to reinforce the ongoing efforts of agricultural development programs, in coherence with COVID-19 control guidelines, through active participation of the general public and relevant sectors.

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought – is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.

Ministry of Agriculture
June 17, 2020

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