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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

Lebanon aims to step up efforts to boost food security and sustainable agriculture

President Aoun meets FAO Director-General, welcomes opening of sub-regional office

14 December 2016, Beirut – Lebanese President Michel Aoun today met FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva for talks that focused on food security and sustainable development as well as the need to provide assistance to farmers affected by the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

President Aoun received the FAO Director-General at the presidential Baabda Palace, where Lebanon’s Agriculture Minister, Akram Chehayeb, was also present.

The Lebanese President expressed appreciation for FAO’s decision to open a Sub-Regional office in Beirut stressing that it would receive "full support”. FAO’s Sub-Regional Office for the Mashreq countries will serve as a technical centre of excellence in support of food and nutritional security, sustainable agricultural development, as well as food safety, trade and rural development initiatives in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Aoun stressed that sustainable development of the agriculture sector “is of major importance" for his country. The President also pointed out that he will ensure that the new government will implement "a clear strategy” for food security and agricultural development, including the conservation of Lebanon’s forest and fishery resources and the protection against animal diseases

He also told Graziano da Silva that Lebanon was counting FAO’s assistance to provide care for displaced Syrians who have entered the country.

For his part, Graziano da Silva briefed the president on the main activities of FAO in Lebanon, such as the support to hosting communities, the help provided to farmers affected by the crisis in Syria and capacity development and training for Lebanese people returning from Syria. FAO activities also include support for Lebanon’s National Afforestation and Reforestation Plan, upgrading of the agricultural technical education system, assistance to small farmers affected by the Syria crisis and formulation of a road map to support fisheries and aquaculture.

Graziano Da Silva also met First Lady, Nadia Aoun, and discussed with her possible initiatives for her to champion, including campaigns of afforestation and for the protection of forest resources. The successful introduction of Quinoa in Lebanon and current efforts to distribute seeds of local varieties were also discussed.

The FAO Director-General praised the First Lady for the special attention she has shown towards food and environment projects and stressed that FAO was ready to provide support to initiatives that fall within the Organization’s mandate.

Minister Chehayeb praised FAO’s support to Lebanon, quoting for example, the campaign to plant 40 million trees, which is aimed at recreating Lebanon’s “green space” following a series of devastating forest fires.

Graziano da Silva in his concluding remarks, underscored that the opening of FAO’s Sub-Regional office in Beirut would serve to address a number of agreed-upon priorities for the region, including refugees and returnees support, dealing with transboundary diseases and epidemics affecting livestock and the agricultural sector, as well as the adverse effects of climate change.

In addition to his meeting with the President and the First Lady, Graziano da Silva also met with the outgoing Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, the Prime Minister Designate, Saad Harir, the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berry and with the Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil.

All senior officials welcomed the establishment of the new Sub-Regional office in Lebanon and expressed their full support for FAO’s work in the country and the region.

 

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