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The Ministers of International Cooperation and Agriculture Discuss Projects in the Agricultural Sector with International Development Partners

The Minister of International Cooperation Dr. Rania Al-Mashat and the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) Mohamed El Quseir held a video conference meeting with several international financial institutions and development partners. The meeting addressed projects of funding priority in the agricultural sector during the upcoming period and MALR's plan to advance its sectors within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the National Development Agenda, in collaboration with international financial institutions.

Dr. Al-Mashat ascertained that the meeting came within the framework of “Global Partnerships for Effective Development Cooperation” multi-stakeholder platform launched by MOIC last April. The platform, according to Dr. Al-Mashat, aimed to enhance dialogue and cooperation frameworks between the government and development partners in order to achieve development goals and provide support to each sector's future plans through regular interactive participation among all development partners. The Minister pointed out that agriculture and rural development was a sector of utmost priority for the Egyptian government, noting that MOIC worked with MALR to closely coordinate their efforts during the past period to monitor ODA progress in the sector as well as to address priority fields and required support. MOIC currently gives priority to coordination with international institutions and development partners to support the agricultural sector due to its role in providing food security amid the Coronavirus pandemic, asserted Dr. Al-Mashat. She also noted that several projects in the agricultural sector were being implemented with the USAID, several European countries, Arab funds and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Agriculture contributes to 14% of the GDP, and represents 28% of work opportunities and 55% of rural labor in Egypt, explained the Minister, adding that revenues from agro-products increased by 20% in 2019 as compared to 2009, while exports of vegetables alone increased by 40% during the same period. Within this context, the Minister revealed that there were 13 ongoing projects in the agricultural sector worth UD 545.42M to which several international institutions contributed, including IFAD, AFESD, USAID, the EU and KFAED as well as France, Italy and Germany. The Minister further illustrated that specialized working groups would be organized during the upcoming period to develop issues of priority in the agricultural sector as well as to identify challenges of previous experiences, develop proposals and necessary mechanisms through cooperation with development partners, stimulate growth of the agricultural sector on the short, medium and long term, and achieve integration between development cooperation projects and programs. On his part, Mr. El Quseir thanked Dr. Al-Mashat for hosting the meeting and thanked the donors for their efforts as development partners in the agricultural sector. He also commended the great efforts exerted by the state and political leadership in support of the sector, mainly the horizontal expansion of agricultural lands and development of the irrigation system, using modern mechanisms and relying on multiple water sources such as treated agricultural wastewater, groundwater, and collected rain water…etc. Mr. El Quseir explained that it was important to set priorities for the Agricultural Bank of Egypt’s programs to better enable it to play its pivotal role of meeting the demands of laborers in the sector, adding that MALR was about to start the ‘producing village experience’ in collaboration with an association through providing some households with livestock in order to help them have their own projects. That is besides the national mega projects launched by the state in the field, including horizontal expansion and developing related infrastructure such as roads and energy, and diversifying water resources, in addition to adopting several programs such as the national veal project and others that aimed at combating poverty, capacity building, enhancing food quality, providing job opportunities and achieving development across the whole country. He added that there would be a leap in the sector through collaboration with MOIC and donors. "We concluded a fruitful meeting where MALR's plans to develop the sector were tackled, which is fundamental for Egypt's sustainable growth," said Walid Labadi, IFC's Country Manager for Egypt, Libya and Yemen. He emphasized that gathering development partners through the stakeholders' platform was highly significant for creating dialogue on mobilizing support for the main development priorities. Mr. Labadi further reiterated that IFC was looking forward to work with the Egyptian government and development partners to support the private sector's sustainable agricultural investments. In addition, EIB's Cairo office head Alfredo Abad ascertained that the multi-stakeholder platforms organized by MOIC provided EIB with a great opportunity to engage in high-level discussions with ministers from various sectors. Such platforms, he added, helped all partners adapt our strategies and procedures to ensure support to SDGs and improve livelihoods. Meanwhile, MOIC will proceed with organizing a joint coordinating cooperation platform between multilateral and bilateral development partners to discuss future projects for different sectors so as to drive economic growth and increase employment opportunities.