As the late founding father, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan said, “Give me agriculture and I will give you civilization.” The Student Affairs Department at Zayed University (ZU) hosted the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Abu Dhabi campus to raise awareness among students about food, water and energy security and highlight the powerful role the UAE played to eradicate world hunger worldwide.
The lecture came as part of the ZU International Club activities, which aims to provide students an opportunity to learn more about the world and exchange ideas.
Al Mahdi Al Idrissy, FAO Representative in the UAE and FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for the Gulf Cooperation Council States and Yemen, gave a lecture on the mission of FAO and United Nations in tackling global challenges since 1945 and addressed several topics such as water scarcity management and environment protection, agriculture, fisheries and livestock resources, food and nutrition security.
The lecture was attended by Dr Fatima AlDarmaki, Assistant Provost for Student Affairs, Shamsa Al Taie, Director of Student Affairs, and several ZU male and female students, who learned about effective ways to promote sustainable production and consumption and got to know more about the objectives of FAO under the umbrella of the United Nations.
Praising the continuous support provided by Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development and President of ZU, in eradicating world hunger and closing the food gap despite the harsh climate, which comes in line with the UAE’s commitments to international development, Al Idrissy said: “UAE has played an influential and powerful role in halving the number of hungry people all over the world and succeeded in developing its agriculture and food sectors,”
“The UAE joined FAO in 1973, and in 2006, the FAO Representation in UAE was inaugurated. Generously funded by the UAE; the Sub-regional Office for the Gulf Cooperation Council States and Yemen was established in the UAE in November 2010,” he said.
According to the FAO, with 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted every year around the globe, which is almost one-third of all food produced for human consumption, the UAE was among one of the top countries, which managed to keep undernourishment levels below 5 per cent since 1990.
During the lecture, Al Idrissy pointed out to ways to conserve water and improve water-use efficiency.
“We must make better use of water along the whole chain from the farm to the market while preserving and restoring healthy ecosystems. Water use efficiency and productivity increase through better on-farm water management, improvement of irrigation system performance and adjustments of irrigation polices,” he said.
“A comprehensive approach to water must take into account crops, fisheries, livestock, and land management while guaranteeing environmental sustainability,” he added.
Additionally, Al Idrissy addressed the challenges and factors of success in reducing hunger.
“Economic growth is necessary, but not sufficient. What matters is inclusive growth, which means, providing opportunities for the poor. Also, enhancing the productivity of family farmers and strengthening social protection mechanisms, along with well-functioning markets and governance,” he said.
He highlighted that conflict, political instability or natural disasters have resulted in protracted crises, adding to vulnerability and food insecurity.
“For instance, the number of undernourished has doubled from 16.5 million people in 1990-1992 to 33 million people in 2014-2016 due to conflicts, which are the main drivers of food insecurity in the region,” Al Idrissy said.