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Statement by Prof. El-Beltagy on the occasion of the 34th session of Governing Council of IFAD

Madame Chair, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze (President of IFAD), distinguished members, ladies and gentleman.

It is my pleasure and honor to represent Egypt. I would like to welcome Uzbekistan and Hungary for joining the council. This morning I have heard about the celebrations of countries after 150 years of their independence, hence I reflected on Egypt and its 6000 years of civilization and as a nation state which could be witnessed in its agricultural system over the years. This fact  conveys a clear message  to continuously modernize and try to adjust dynamically to future needs with this in mind, I would like to share with you a couple of facts about Egypt.

First, we have very limited arable land. It is estimated around 8.6 Million acres which represents less than 4% of the total land of Egypt. Second, we have limited water resources despite the fact that the Nile is running along Egypt. The Nile River has been running through Egypt for thousands of years and helped over the years in shaping the life and civilization of millions of Egyptians with its limited water resources. In addition, we have an overpopulation problem (80 million people) where the majority of are living in the Delta region and around 40% of them are young people with great aspiration for better future. On the other hand, several changes happened around the globe during the last three years steaming from the food crisis, financial Tsunami and the climate change and their effects on all developing countries including Egypt.

Therefore, we did implement a new strategy which was developed by the Agricultural Research and Development Council (ARDC) in Egypt.  Within the framework of these considerations, the vision, mission and objectives the Sustainable Agricultural Development Strategy (SADS) towards 2030 have been articulated as follows:

The Vision: "To achieve a comprehensive economic and social development based on a dynamic agricultural sector capable of sustained and rapid growth, while paying a special attention to helping the underprivileged social groups and reducing rural poverty."

The Mission: "Modernizing Egyptian agriculture based on achieving food security and improving the livelihood of the rural inhabitants, through the efficient use of development resources, the utilization of the geopolitical and environmental advantages, and the comparative advantages of the different agro-ecological regions."

Strategic objectives

The aforementioned vision and mission are the building blocks of the main strategic objectives of the SADS towards 2030, and are as follows:

  • Sustainable use of natural agricultural resources;
  • Increasing the productivity of both the land and water units;
  • Raising the degree of food security of the strategic food commodities;
  • Increasing the competitiveness of agricultural products in local and international markets;
  • Improving the climate for agricultural investment; and
  • Improving the living standards of the rural inhabitants, and reducing poverty rates in the rural areas.

 The strategy aims at improving the livelihood or rural poor by linking them to local and international markets. Since the Pharaonic time and until now, agriculture was knowledge based but the implementation of the SADS 2030 strategy will be based on knowledge intensive dimensions. In addition, emphasis on human resource development, establishing enabling environment (legislations and policies) the overarching objectives will be a sustainable increase of food production as well as linking with the international markets (export oriented).   

Egypt has the highest on-farm water use efficiency in Africa (45%). On-farm water modernization is a main program of the strategy and aims at 80% water use efficiency. It will be implemented in 7 Million acres in Egypt. The World Bank and IFAD are already involved besides other institutions and the Egyptian government in the development of agricultural sector. This work is empowered with enabling environment, national programs on marketing and value-chain that was established to improve farmers' standard of living.  With this in mind, we aspire for a less distorted global market and that any distortion should be minimized dramatically to ensure better opportunity for the farmers of the developing world.
I would like to state that the relationship of Egypt and IFAD goes back since its establishment. We really appreciate this institution and its work and we appreciate the leadership of Dr. Kanayo Nwanze and the management team. Meanwhile, we are involved as well in the implementation of the evaluation outcomes.

Finally, let me say that IFAD when it was created functioned according  to different circumstances compare the conditions and working environments that exist nowadays therefore IFAD work is needed now than ever. The food crisis still looming around us, the financial Tsunami we are not out of it yet and the climate change is there and we need to look at how we can really face the future with the young people who has aspiration. According to our business plan in Egypt, we did identify that the price of doing nothing will result in tremendous socio-political upheaval not only in Egypt but also in many developing countries. 

Thus, I hope that all of us as member countries in the governing council that we work very hard to see that IFAD be maintained and sustained to fulfill our hope and dreams in the future.
Thank you very much  

19 February 2011