His Excellency Mahmoud Abu-Zeid (Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation of the Arab Republic of Egypt) (Original language Arabic)
Mr Chairman, Your Majesties, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to the Italian Government, to His Excellency Mr Jacques Diouf, the Director-General of the FAO, for the organization of this Summit. My delegation shares the concerns of the international community as well as the FAO in reducing poverty and combating hunger. The holding of this Summit comes five years after the World Food Summit at which my country took active part in 1996. That Summit resulted in the Rome Declaration which was given highest priority by my country.
Mr Chairman, the agricultural sector and the farmers receive all attention in my country due to the fact that this sector represents the pillar of the national economy, as well as being the sector at the forefront of the programme of reform and privatisation. The share of this sector in the GDP is 20 percent, and it employs 34 percent of the total labour force in the country. This sector is also responsible for providing the food for the population and the necessary raw materials for the national industry. The agricultural sector succeeded in reaching the level of non-government intervention and is presently run according to private sector guidelines and in keeping with free market and comparative advantage principles. The farmer today has become free to choose his own crops and to sell his products in the way he deems appropriate. The Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation is restricted to the role of research and extension, and the development of economic and policy studies and agricultural legislation. Through the modernizing strategies in the agricultural sector and the response of farmers to the research and extension and to the use of modern technology, we managed to attain plant and animal horizontal and vertical agricultural development and to achieve food security. Consequently, two million feddans of new land were reclaimed and cultivated throughout the last twenty years.
The production of grains increased from eight million tonnes in 1982 to 18.5 tonnes in 2000. An increase in such cash and export crops as cotton, vegetables, fruits and medicinal and ornamental plants was registered. The present strategy of agricultural development aims at reaching an annual growth rate of 4.1 percent by 2017, and to continuing to register high levels of food security, increasing exports, benefiting from the country’s comparative advantage vis-à-vis Certain products, creating new jobs in the rural and agricultural sector, improving and increasing the incomes and the living standards of the rural population.
In collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization, Egypt welcomed the implementation of the Special Programme for Food Security in certain parts of the country. It also welcomed the initiative of the South-South cooperation within the framework of the TCP in order to reach the adequate levels of food security for many countries.
I would like to point out certain points and areas that require the attention of the world today. It is important to keep peace and stability as a prerequisite to attaining food security and development. It is also important to give attention to integrated rural development in order to combat poverty and improve the living standards of the rural population. Finally, due attention should also be given to the development of human resources, the creation of new jobs in order to fight unemployment, research, export and extension capacities as well as the transfer of technologies to the developing countries.
The Government of Egypt recognizes the role of the Food and Agriculture Organization in assisting countries to achieve rural agricultural development and food security throughout the world. Egypt will continue to give support to the International Alliance Against Hunger, adopted by this Summit. Thank you all for listening.
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