Biological diversity is fundamental to agricultureCelebrating the World Food Day means raising awareness [Archives:2004/783/Business & Economy]

October 21 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
From the millions of genes that serve as life's building blocks, to the thousands of plants and animals that inhabit the Earth, to the almost limitless combinations of organisms that make up natural ecosystems, biodiversity makes an essential contribution to feeding the world.
Living things are interdependent intricately linked in birth, death and renewal. Human beings are just one small part of this vibrant mosaic yet put increasing pressure on species and the environment. As a result, many plants and animals are at risk as well as essential natural processes such as pollination by insects and the regeneration of soils micro-organisms.
To feed a growing population, agriculture must be intensified to provide more food. It will also be essential to increase the resilience of agriculture by maintaining a wide array of life forms with unique traits, such as trees that survive drought or cattle that reproduce in harsh conditions. Sustainable agricultural practices can both feed people and protect the oceans, forests, prairies and other ecosystems that harbor biological diversity.
To pay tribute to biodiversity's role in ensuring that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives, “Biodiversity for Food Security” has been chosen as this year's World Food Day theme.

The day was Oct. 16.
Also in 2004, the world celebrates the entry into force of FAO's International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The Treaty will play an important role in achieving lasting food security and sustainable agriculture.

FAO programs in Yemen
FAO's association with Yemen goes back to 1960's. Since then it has collaborated in providing technical assistance in almost every aspect in food and agricultural sector from policy issues to marketing.

The most projects and assistance given by FAO to Yemen as:
FAO assisted the respective Ministries. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and Ministry of Fish Wealth in the implementation of the following projects:

Animal Health
“Surveillance and Strategy Formulation for Rinderpest and other Major Diseases-Second Phase”. The objective of the project is to facilitate completion of the remaining activities in line with the original project agreement as follows:
1. Understanding of the rinderpest status of the Yemen, through analysis of the results of the sero-surveillance, and investigation of the suspected outbreaks.
2. Strengthening the strategy for attaining and sustaining rinderpest freedom elaborated.
3. Reinforce the capacity of surveillance and diagnosis of RVF.
4. Preparation of the emergency contingency planes for RP and other major epidemic diseases.
5. Strengthening of the surveillance for RVF.
6. Determining the prevalence of “peste des petits ruminants” (PPR) and brucellosis and disease confirmed throughout the serological studies and investigation data.

Irrigation Sector
“Water Control Component of the Special Programme for Food Security in Yemen”. Project is implemented to assist Government in a) participatory demonstration of the potential of available improved production technologies. B) participatory identification of constraints to technology adoption; c) participatory formulation of appropriate solutions.

– “Improvement of Date Palm Production”: Project is implemented to strengthen and develop the capabilities of the Government to improve date palm production, as a means to increase food security, through the provision of selected technologies, expert advice, training and planting materials.
– Use and Control of Prosopis”. Project is implemented with the aims at supporting the Government of Yemen in developing suitable and adapted management strategies and plans for the use and control of Prosopis juliflora in local agricultural systems, with a view to improving household food security and income generation opportunities.

Poverty Alleviation
– “Poverty Alleviation and Employment Generation – Strategy for the Community – based Regional Development”.: Project is implemented to assist regional governmental institutions and NGOs in establishing at the level of local communities a fully functioning organizational framework and process for participatory planning and implementing community – based social development / poverty alleviation initiatives in five selected areas, representing, five different ecological zones.
– “Enhancing Rural People Understanding and Participation in RH/FP and Gender Issues”: Project is implemented to (a) Increase awareness about RH/FP issues among women, men and youth in the targeted areas (b) Decrees in socio-cultural practices that inhibit the improvement of female reproductive health and of the status of women in general.

Excavation and Disposal of Obsolete Pesticides Buried in Surdud State Farm”: Project is implemented to for the disposal operations of pesticides in Surdud.

Food Security
– “Support for the establishment of a National Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System”: The long-term goal of the assistance is the reduction of food insecurity and vulnerability in the country.
– “Introduction of the FAO-GTZ MicroBanking System in the Co-operative and Agriculture Credit Bank (CACB)”: The objective of the project is to support CABC restructuring through the introduction of an adapted management information system (the FAO-GTZ MicroBanking system) that would ensure efficiency, timeliness and low cost operations for CABC to properly operate as a Viable financial institution and to secure a reliable source of agricultural credit for an increased number of farmers, small ones in particular.
– “Technical Assistance for the Strengthening, Restructuring and Decentralization of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation – Yemen”: The project's development objective is to contribute to sustainable broad-based poverty alleviation and food security while contributing to environmental protection. The project purpose is to contribute to better service delivery to farmers and other rural producers through the review MAI's performance in that respect, the strengthening of its current capacities at central level, a study on different restructuring options to be tested, and a project proposal to that end.

– “Assistance to the Union of Fishermen's Cooperatives”: The objective of the project is to assist the newly created Union of Fisheries Cooperatives in the establishment of a functional national system that will ensure the effectiveness of the fisher cooperative structure with the full participation of the fisheries cooperatives located in the remote areas of the coast.
– “Fisheries Development (Phase IV)”: The Project is implemented to expand fish catches and improve processing for both local consumption and export, to improve the efficiency of domestic and export marketing of fish, to improve the assessment and management of the fish resources in Yemen waters and to help improve the position of women in fishing communities.