October 21, 2016

Statement by Mr. Arefaine Berhe, Minister of Agriculture, on World Food Day

Mr. Arefaine Berhe, Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Moderator!
Dean Semere Amlesom and the HAC Community

Ms. Bui Thi Lan FAO Representative in Eritrea!
Ms. Rose Ssebatindira – on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative!
Mr. Haile Ghebru WFP, Officer in Charge !
High Government, PFDJ and Army Officials!

Excellencies Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps.!
Religious Leaders!
Members of the Farming Community!
Invited Guests!
Ladies and Gentlemen!

First of all I thank all of you for accepting our invitation and travelling all the way to mark this year’s World Food Day in this beautiful College of Agriculture. I also take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to the Dean, and Community of the Hamelmalo College of Agriculture for offering us this beautiful venue. As was explained by the dean, this is the main institution which is producing professional work-force which is manning the public and private sector and above all our future professional farmers and that is why we can not observe the World Food Day in A Better Place.

Ladies and Gentlemen !
This year’s theme is “Climate is Changing Food and Agriculture must too”. As we can all appreciate, Climate Change and its impact is Global and Eritrea, as a member of the International Community naturally thinks Globally but acts locally. And this is what is required of every member country inorder to sustain the health and productivity of the only planet we share. This theme could not be more appropriate for Eritrea. As this country is situated in the Sahelian part of Africa, the rains are usually insufficient and erratic. Because of this situation, climate-smart agriculture, for us is not just a piece of UN agreement but more of a survival. And this is precisely the reason why Eritrea takes soil and water conservation, in general, and water harvesting in particular very seriously.

Ladies and Gentlemen !
As I said earlier for us climate centered programmes are not just obligations and responsibilities to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) come 2030. On the contrary they are increasingly becoming part and parcel of our culture and everyday life. To ensure the sustainability of these programmes, our kids are being introduced to the impact of the environment on our development efforts and on the lives of our people and their future progress. That is why green clubs are mushrooming in every school starting from the elementary level. These clubs are becoming beacons of awareness raising around their schools and the surrounding communities. Students
at high school level also participate in summer campaigns where they are engaged in the construction of terraces, check-dams and tree planting. Communities, throughout Eritrea also participate in catchment treatment and land care on a regular basis. All the above-mentioned activities point to the cardinal issue of fighting against land degradation deforestation and desertification.

Ladies and Gentlemen !
As you can appreciate carrying programmes is one thing, evaluating their progress and impact is quite another thing. The annual stock taking greening day is held every 15th May precisely for this purpose. All stake-holders make intimate discussion about the pros and cons of the previous years’ performance and the following year’s plans.

Ladies and Gentlemen !
Soil and water conservation in general, and water harvesting in particular has direct bearing on the productivity of both crops and livestock and the final target of food and nutrition security. In Eritrea our strategy is to practice intensive and integrated agriculture, so that we can dedicate most of the land, especially the sloppy and drier areas to tree planting and closure establishment in order to enhance our natural resource base.

Ladies and Gentlemen !
Unlike most years this year’s rainfall was very good in most parts of the country and as a result, we are expecting very good harvest. But to sustain this we have to adapt to the Changing Climate. For a comprehensive Eritrean view about climate change and the responsibilities it bestows on us please refer to our small booklet, prepared for this occasion entitled “Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture and Food Production Systems”: The Eritrean context.

I would like express my gratitude to all our partners who participate in our development efforts and appeal to them to do more.

Finally, I thank the organizing committee for a job well done. Thank you for your attention !

Arefaine Berhe

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