IFAD President Calls on the Arab Agricultural Sector to Address Challenges of Food Security and Climate Change
18 January 2009: Speaking at the 31st Summit of the League Arab States (LAS), held from 17-18 January 2009, in Kuwait City, Lennart Båge, President of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), called for re-engaging the agricultural sector to meet the challenges of food security and climate change, with particular attention to energy efficiency, water scarcity and the environment.
Båge reported that the recent food crisis has increased the number of undernourished people in LAS member States by four million, and explained that climate change will increase food price volatility and food insecurity while presenting major challenges to the mostly rain-fed agriculture in the region. Noting the region's high population growth rate, he called for increasing food production and greater efforts for food security planning. Outlining IFAD's strategy and achievements in LAS countries he suggested five key areas for addressing food security: increasing agricultural productivity through drought and heat resistant varieties, capacity building and technology transfer; increasing water productivity and savings; combating desertification and land degradation through projects for soil and water conservation and re-vegetation, monitoring of natural resource use, and capacity building for sustainable land management; improving infrastructure, such as roads, financial services, marketing services and price information services; and engaging youth in the agricultural and agro-processing and trading sectors to reduce unemployment and raise education levels. [The Speech]