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Rabat – Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Omar Hilale, and Israel’s Ambassador Gilad Erdan, spoke together at a UN video conference themed “Planting for the future: Food security and innovative agriculture”.
The conference took place under the 54th United Nations Commission on Population and Development, coinciding with Earth Day 2021 and the US’s Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate Change.
Ambassadors to the UN from across the globe attended the conference as well as the Director of the Israel Agency for International Development (MASHAV), Eynat Shlein, and the Director-General of the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI), Mohamed Methqal.
Hilale commented on the strengthening relationship between Morocco and Israel and underlined the importance of cooperation in areas such as food security, sustainable development practices, and climate change.
Erdan reiterated Israel’s commitment to working closely with the North African ally.
On the topic of COVID-19’s impact on sustainable agriculture and food security, Hilale stated, “if there is one lesson we can learn from the global COVID-19 crisis, it would be to turn it into an opportunity to rebalance and transform our food systems and plant for the future.”
The ambassador focused on the Green Morocco Plan, which King Mohammed VI inaugurated in 2008, to implement sustainable agriculture practices into Morocco.
The plan has already planted trees over nearly 438,455 hectares, implemented hydro-agricultural equipment spanning 83,960 hectares, improved pastures across 39,185 hectares, and opened over 545 kilometers of rural pathways.
Additionally, the Green Morocco Plan will create 342,000 new job opportunities.
“Morocco’s vision in the field of agriculture aims to ensure national food self-sufficiency and opens the possibility of exporting quality agricultural products to the world,” said the ambassador.
In 2020, Morocco exported mostly tomatoes and citrus fruit for a combined $1.36 billion (MAD 12.11 billion) total globally.
UN Secretary-General for the Food Systems Summit 2021 Agnes Kalibata applauded Morocco’s efforts in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) since announcing the Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) initiative at the 2016 COP22 in Marrakech.
The AAA initiative promised to “defend the cause of the vulnerability of African agriculture to climate change.”
The unique cooperation between Israel and Morocco in the fight for food security and sustainable agriculture is another key focus for the AAA as it seeks to “foster bilateral, regional and international cooperation between African organizations responsible for strategic issues related to the adaptation of African agriculture to climate change.”
Kalibata added that “Morocco and Israel are living examples of what innovation can achieve in the agricultural sector.”
One example of agricultural innovation is the use of drones. Morocco’s National Institute of Agricultural Research partnered with Sowit, a french initiative seeking to implement the use of drones in agriculture across Africa.
Eynat Shlein of Israel’s International Development Agency noted the recent innovative use of drones in Ethiopia to combat the pervasive desert locust that threatens crops yearly.
Morocco and Israel will continue to implement new technologies and innovative solutions to ensure food security as they prepare for the 2021 Food Systems Summit in September.