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“World Food Day – 16 October 2020”

Statement of the Ministry of Agriculture

This year’s World Food Day theme is “GROW, NOURISH, AND SUSTAIN. TOGETHER.” All our past records indicate that every year has its own challenges and opportunities. We are amid of COVID-19 pandemic. However, we should not be victims of this situation. In fact, we should redouble our efforts to offset the gaps created by the existing situation.

Notwithstanding all the hitherto existing natural and mankind induced challenges like climate change, pests and desert-locust outbreaks, COVID-19 pandemic, etc., the Government of the State of Eritrea (GoSE) has been exerting strenuous efforts to rationally exploit the country’s agricultural potential and ensure food and nutrition security.

The POLICY of the GoSE is to transform traditional farming system into modern commercial farming system and develop vibrant economy supported by a comprehensive array of government provided services like, research and extension, regulatory and advisory services, training and education. The Government is shifting from the back-breaking traditional agriculture to technology-driven modern agriculture in order to make it youth-friendly. Irrigated agriculture, with special focus on pressurized agriculture with alternative energy, mainly solar, is being introduced. Numerous water storage infrastructures have been built throughout the country: 9 strategic dams, 3 big dams, 747 micro dams, 206 medium dams and 7 different forms of diversion schemes in Northern Red Sea, G/Barka and Debub.

Photo: from archives

Currently, 60,030 hectares of land is under irrigation. Of which 23,400ha is under spate, 32,500 ha under furrow, 1450ha under drip and 2,680ha under sprinkler. Protected agriculture in the form of green houses and poly- tunnels are being promoted. High-value crops like vegetables, fruits and flowers mainly for export, are getting more emphasis.

The outcomes of dairy, poultry, piggery apiary etc. are increasing in amount and quality. The farms around the big dams are fine-tuning their irrigation infrastructures to demonstrate modern commercial agriculture that will eventually benefit the youth and attract more into farming businesses and career in the agriculture value chain. Some among the many strategic interventions that contribute towards food and nutrition security and promote the production of nutritious agricultural (nutrition sensitive agriculture) produce are the introduction of agricultural technologies and the implementation of climate resilient Minimum Integrated Household Agricultural Package (MIHAP).

Every challenge comes with equal and even greater opportunity. That is why all of us together have to do our best in spite of COVID-19. MIHAP is climate smart, small, intensive and integrated package which is geared to provide food and nutrition at household level. The program has already played a big role in improving the livelihood of its beneficiaries and is spreading at a commendable speed. Also, the supports to small and medium scale commercial farmers focus on providing technical services, facilitating access to modern inputs, credit opportunities, development of market infrastructure and creating access to local and foreign markets

During this COVID-19 period, strictly observing the health protocols issued by WHO and Eritrea’s Ministry of Health, the government allowed agricultural services to continue. Hence, well-coordinated efforts have been underway to see that our services continue uninterrupted and ensure our food heroes – farmers and workers benefit most out of it. Tailored transport services have been organized by the GoSE to transport agricultural produces and inputs from and to farmers’ points and market centres to avoid food supply disruption and meet the agro-input and food demands of farmers and consumers and stabilize the market. The government is committed to modernize agriculture and various types of agro-machineries (tractors, threshers, combine harvesters, balers, planters, etc.) have been secured; Farm Machinery Service Centres established in all the six zobas of Eritrea and are delivering services to the majority of the rural farmers at reasonable prices.

Photo: from archives

We are working TOGETHER with our farmers and workers, the majority of the Eritrean rural farming households and all our partners. With utmost acknowledgement of the “WFD Theme
2020”, the Ministry of Agriculture will strive hard to realize that “Food is the essence of life and the bedrock of our cultures and communities. Preserving access to safe and nutritious food is and will continue to be an essential part of the response to the covid-19 pandemic, particularly for low income communities, who are hit hard by the pandemic. FAO’s reports indicate that this year, almost 690 million people are hungry, up 10 million since 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic could add as many as 132 million people to this number, depending on the economic growth scenario. In a moment like this, it is more important than ever to recognise the need to come together, support especially our small farmers and workers through the food system – who are making sure that food makes its way from farm to fork even amid disruptions as unprecedented as the current COVID-19.” “WFD 2020” is an occasion to sensitize the public on how everybody has a role to play in transforming our food systems by changing the way we produce, transform and consume our food.

In conclusion, we would like to note that we are working very closely with the Ministries of Health, Marine Resource, Trade and Industry and the Standards Institution to address this issue of Food and Nutrition Security for all.

Let us all work together to achieve food and nutrition security at a faster pace.

Ministry of Agriculture

October 16, 2020

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