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World Food Day, October 16, Challenges Countries to Feed the Hungry – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco is making noticeable progress in achieving food security

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
October 13, 2016

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

For more than 20 years, food security has been on the agenda at the UN and associated agencies. The world’s population is at an estimated 7.4 billion and is projected to reach 11.2 billion by the turn of the century, with the majority of the growth in Africa and SE Asia. While there may be disputes among experts as to the inevitability of the growth rate, one fact is clear: without dedicated and effective strategies, the world’s food security is in danger of eroding.

Two commonly accepted definitions of food security describe the key indicators. “Food security is the state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food,” is how it is defined in Wikipedia. The World Food Summit in 1996, the benchmark for addressing the issue, defines it this way, “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”[emphasis added]

Morocco is has shown its keen awareness of its twin responsibilities — to achieve food security for its own people, and to enable other countries, especially in Africa, to reach their goals — through its management of fertilizer production, its technical assistance in the agricultural sector, and its commitment to developing infrastructure to support needed distribution systems. The country coordinates its efforts with the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, among others.

Food security is so much more than an adequate food supply. It involves the economic and environmental dimensions of the food supply chain: ensuring adequate water supplies, seed selection and constantly improving yields and technique; support for agricultural sector innovations and inclusion of all productive farms – large and small; guaranteeing production, distribution, and marketing resources, including access to finance; and responsible land and energy management. And while attention is focused on food production, reducing poverty and fighting malnutrition also require high levels of commitment.

Morocco is doing its part. In the UN’s  Millennium Development Goals campaign, completed in 2015, countries committed to improve human development indicators in eight categories, including access to food and potable water, and halving the poverty rate. Morocco met these goals and exceeded them in many cases.

Around the same time, Morocco developed national agricultural and fisheries plans called Plan Vert Morocco, “Green Plan Morocco,” to help large and small food producers to become more efficient and environmentally responsible. These actions and more reflect Morocco’s serious commitment to greatly lowering poverty rates and ill health that affect especially the poor.

In 2014, Morocco was awarded the Rome Prize of the FAO for “outstanding progress in fighting hunger” in recognition of its success in eradicating hunger and reducing malnutrition through promotion of its agricultural sector in the country’s sustainable development campaign. Michael George Hage, the FAO representative in Morocco said that “The Plan Maroc Vert has created an irreversible momentum without precedent. It has played a determining role in food security and is inspiring several other African countries.”

The FAO works in Morocco under its Country Programming Framework, which in 2013-2016 focused on four priority areas:

  • Equitable and inclusive development, including vulnerable groups and women in the agriculture and marine fisheries sectors as the engine of economic and social development;
  • Sustainable management of natural resources and improved living standards for rural people, with an emphasis on vulnerable populations, in the context of adaptation to climate change;
  • Management of food crises; and
  • Promotion of regional cooperation, including South-South Cooperation with sub-Saharan countries.

The World Food Program (WFP) is working in Morocco in a number of areas. Its most visible program is in support of the Ministry of Education plan to improve school meals and engage local stakeholders to promote sustainability and scalability for the future. Morocco also contributes funding to WFP programs in countries that are in dire need of short-term food assistance due to natural disasters and human catastrophes.

Morocco takes food security very seriously as it is clear that global climate change is a serious threat to its future agricultural and fishing sectors. The country recognizes that these are regional issues requiring regional solutions, and that getting started in addressing its own needs will enable it to better assist its neighbors.

 

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