Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Dr. Rania Al Mashat joined a high level virtual panel on the significance of international developmental cooperation to face the implications of the coronavirus pandemic on the agricultural sector and food security.
The panel was organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), where the opening speech was delivered by IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo with 80 attendees from 19 states, including 10 ministers and 10 deputy ministers from the Near East, North Africa and Europe, as well as Central Asia, in addition to representatives from UN agencies World Food Program (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO).
This comes in light of warnings by the UN on how the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a surge in global hunger, as the WFP estimated that the number of people that will be exposed to food insecurity could double to reach 265 million in 2020.
In the panel, Dr. Al Mashat noted that “food security is not just important today at the national level, but for the entire globe, which necessitates that each national narrative and each national policy adds up,” so as to protect livelihoods.
In the case of Egypt, there are special programs for the agricultural sector, such as the allocation of funds to local farmers to maintain local production and harvest, particularly in regards to strategic commodities such as wheat.
There has also been digitalization to ensure that farmers receive constant information on sanitation and food safety standards in order to protect public health as Egypt continues to export fresh products to Europe and the MENA region.
Furthermore, the food processing industry has been brought to the fore of discussions with the government, Dr. Al Mashat added, commending the latest decisions by the president to allocate more areas of land for agricultural production and pushing for digital solutions, rural financing, and ensuring that access to markets and disruption of supply chains are considered, as well as the issue of employment.
“We are working with member state governments to provide facilities to ensure that farmers are granted the necessary funds to overcome the negative implications of the coronavirus outbreak,” Houngbo noted.
Recently, Egypt and Italy signed an agreement worth EGP 42 million for the Social Welfare Project in Luxor in cooperation with the WFP, which aims to protect food security and eradicate poverty through a full and integrated package that targets the most needy families.
In 2013, The Broker called food security “a global public good” that requires a multi-level and joint strategy that works at the national and international levels.
Egypt’s Multi-Level Strategy
In the panel, Dr. Al Mashat shed a light on Egypt’s commitment to cooperating with international organizations in order to mitigate the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on all sectors, including the agricultural industry and to ensure food security.
The minister added that this is the most opportune time to push for a multi-level strategy that brings everyone together, where different countries can share their experiences and multilateral institutions can provide technical assistance and vision on how to move forward on different topics.
To respond to the crisis in a timely manner, the ministry launched the New Global Partnerships Narrative on April 2 to strengthen Egypt’s inclusive multilateral engagement with development partners, governments, private sector and civil society. It is focused on three pillars: ‘People at the Core’, ‘Projects in Action’ and ‘Purpose as the Driver’ to highlight development cooperation to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
People at the core: By placing investment in people as the top priority, Egypt is keen on integrating human capital into the country’s overall development, commit to improving the Egyptian people’s lives and push Egyptians towards realizing their full potential.
Projects in action: More than 247 projects have been implemented across multiple sectors in education, transportation, water desalination, renewable energy and women’s empowerment, among others, each fulfilling one of the United Nations 17 SDGs.
Purpose as the driver: Purpose is the main driver to generate sustained and inclusive growth as well as defining Egypt’s playing field through collaboration with its multilateral and bilateral partners.
Since Monday, the number of COVID-19 cases has reached 3,333 cases with a highest recorded increase since the start of the outbreak, 189 cases in one day.
The death toll has also reached 250, with recoveries estimated at 821.
Cases of the novel virus have been steadily increasing in the country despite governmental measures to curb the rate of infection.