Diplomatist Special Report: West Asia - North Africa 2018 WANA 2018 - Page 13

SPECIAL REPORT performance of the WANA countries in terms of food security. Of the seven WANA & Gulf countries not present in the GFSI, namely Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine and Qatar, three (Iraq, Libya and Palestine) are experiencing frequent bouts of the confl ict that negatively impact food security. Given the risk of climate change, country-specific threats and violent confl icts, WANA countries are likely to experience a slide, in the Global Food Security Index over the medium term. Even the long-term prospects appear dim, as in addition to climate change, numerous WANA countries, and its neighbour states will run out of low-priced hydrocarbon resources, to sell which to date have been used as a means to buy themselves food security. Joining hands on the urgent need of cooperation, India and Israel signed a unique Strategic Partnership on non-security issues including agriculture, science & water during the Indian Prime Minister's visit to Israel in July 2017. On this important strategic visit Deputy Director General of Israel Foreign Ministry, Asia- Pacifi c Department said "Strategic partnership means a lot of things… including first and foremost food security. India needs to feed and provide sustenance in the form of water to its 1.3 billion people and this visit manoeuvred the relationship on issues we can cooperate on which will bring maximum benefits to people of both sides,” Similarly, India is encouraging cooperation between several research centres and institutions in the fi eld of food security and agriculture. Within the framework of the food security program promoted by OCP Group from Morocco and its Indian partners, several Indian farmers are benefi ting, since 2010, from different agricultural development and research projects in nine States of the subcontinent, thereby strengthening the Indian-Moroccan relationship so far. In 2012, OCP Foundation, which carries out the social and societal commitment of OCP in Morocco and in Southern countries, launched the India Morocco Food Legumes Initiative. This project is undertaken in collaboration with MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA Morocco) and Hassan II Institute of Agronomy and Veterinary Sciences (IAV). Moroccan and Indian scientists joined their efforts to improve pulse productivity and farmers’ livelihoods in both countries. Targeted Indian states are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, and West Bengal. In Morocco, the targeted regions are Fes-Meknes, Rabat-Sale-Kenitra, Benimellal-Khenifra, Casablanca-Settat, and Marrakech-Safi. Indeed, 40,000 benefi ciaries, 50 cooperatives and more than 5000 ha are covered in both countries. Moreover, 1500 capacity building programs were organized so far and around 80 undergoing back up research programs in relation with pests, nutrient and crop management of pulses have been conducted thus involving more than 30 PhD and M. Sc students. As a result, productivity increased by 20 to 35 percent and doubled in some areas. Besides, farmers gained 13 to 20 percent premium price through value addition activities. Pulses area increased in some project sites; in Tripura state, for instance, cultivation of lentil and grasspea increased by 25 percent due to coverage of rice fallows. In fact, within the war-torn zone of Syria which is recovering from its decade-long civil war and Islamic State Terrorism, Indian Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia, in his tour in February 2017, affi rmed India’s readiness to help Syria in the agricultural sector, and provide the required expertise to contribute to developing this sector which has been affected heavily due to the war. He also presented a working paper for projects, that India could help in implementing in Syria, especially in the fi elds of scientifi c agricultural research, on drought-tolerant grain varieties and fruit trees, in addition, to helping in the sectors of animal and fi sh resources, training Syrian agricultural technicians in research and production fi elds to help rural families secure additional income. Given the vulnerability of agriculture to climate-induced natural disasters and their long-term impacts on agricultural output, livelihoods and nutrition, such a short-sighted approach towards disaster relief will only prove inadequate. The governments in both regions need to take a long-term view of disaster relief. Moreover, given the adverse impacts of natural disasters on child nutrition, long-term under- nutrition prevention programmes must be implemented in disaster-affected regions. Additional efforts must be directed towards reducing the risk in agriculture. Such schemes should be specially targeted towards small farmers. India is encouraging cooperation between several research centres and institutions in the fi eld of food security and agriculture. * Prerna Sanjay is a freelance journalist by passion, with interest in Indian Foreign Policy West Asia-North Africa• 13