The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Jordan launched a new project to identify potential areas for knowledge exchange, policy dialogue, and programme development to improve water security, agriculture, and nutrition outcomes in the Kingdom.
The inception workshop, held with both virtual and physical participants, brought together representatives from the agriculture, water and nutrition sectors from government, national research institutes and universities, and non-profit organisations, according to a FAO statement.
The project, “Increasing water productivity for nutrition-sensitive agriculture and improved food security and nutrition”, is being implemented in six pilot countries: Niger, Rwanda, Mozambique, Benin, Egypt and Jordan, the statement said.
The statement added that to promote knowledge and the implementation of sustainable water and farming practices that can improve livelihoods and nutrition outcomes it will develop a tool to identify methods for improving crop choices, water management strategies, and agricultural practices to maximise crop yield, the nutrition density of harvested crops, and the economic return with minimal water inputs.
“Jordan has had a good relationship with FAO and the IFAD in working together to increase agriculture’s contribution to the GDP, expand job opportunities, and empower women and youth to develop small enterprises to improve their livelihoods,” Ali Abu Nukta, Assistant Secretary-General for Livestock at the ministry of Agriculture said on behalf of Agriculture Minister Khalid Hneifat, during the event.
Meanwhile, Nabil Assaf, FAO Representative for Jordan stated that as a custodian of the United Nations’ Agency for Food and Agriculture, FAO has a critical role in addressing all forms of malnutrition by enabling healthy diets through a comprehensive food systems approach, which recognises that access to adequate water is critical for food production.
The FAO’s strategy facilitates collective actions across water, food security and nutrition sectors.
“This project is timely since it is completely in line with the IFAD’s Strategy and complements the IFAD’s ongoing projects and also the cooperation agenda with FAO,” Vrej Jijyan, the IFAD country director, stated during his remarks.
“ FAO supports more nutrient-dense crops per drop through value-added approaches in women’s empowerment, water and food productivity, and income generation,” Sasha Koo-Oshima, the deputy director of the FAO Land and Water Division, said during the workshop.
“Across all the implementing countries the project will catalyse partnerships that will help overcome barriers to sustainable smallholder farmers’ access to remunerative markets,” Paulo Dias, the project manager in the FAO Land and Water Division, said during his remarks.
Dias added that linking farmers to existent public procurement programmes, such as the home-grown school feeding programmes and other initiatives from the private sector in Jordan, will help incentivise crop diversification and the production of high nutrient density crops.
Dias highlighted that there is an “urgent need” to promote sustainable agricultural practices given the growing challenge to ensure equitable and reliable access to diverse diets and safe water for all.
“Currently, climate change is exacerbating land degradation, water scarcity, flooding, and rainfall unpredictably, which in turn undermine the productivity of smallholder farmers and contribute to rising rates of malnutrition,” he added.
Dias added that water management will be critical for the achievement of global nutrition targets given the critical role of water in food production, preparation and hygiene.