Dear Ambassador Giampaolo Cantini,
Dear Dr. Saad Moussa,
Dear Mr Felice Longobardi, Head of the Italian Cooperation Agency in Cairo,
Dear Nasredin Hag Elamin, Representative of FAO,
Dear representatives of ministries and the Governorates of Fayoum, Minya and Matrouh,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to attend this closing session of the EU-Joint Rural Development Programme, a flagship initiative of the European Union in co-operation with Italy and our Egyptian partners.
Agriculture is a key economic sector in the EU. Farmers have the crucial task of guaranteeing high quality and safe food for our populations as well as to protect the environment. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) supports them in delivering on these fundamental public benefits and address global challenges linked to urbanization trends, environmental concerns and climate change.
The European Union's CAP ensures a decent standard of living for farmers, while setting, at the same time, stringent requirements for animal health and welfare, environmental protection and food safety. In this context, promoting a sustainable development of rural areas is fundamental. Rural economies today face a number of significant challenges. People, especially younger people, tend to leave rural areas putting the economic viability of rural economies at risk. We need to make sure that rural areas are attractive places to live and work.
The EU’s rural development policy helps rural areas of the EU to meet these challenges. It plays a key part in achieving the overall objective of promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in rural communities.
The EU JRDP in Egypt is part of the larger support that the EU is providingE to the rural areas or for the development of agriculture in the country. More than twenty years have passed since the first agricultural project supported by the EU was implemented. Over the years, the EU has become an increasingly important partner in this sector, with a total contribution reaching over €200 million supporting food safety, providing financial support to Agriculture SMEs; promoting the value chain development through the EU Regional Trade and Competitiveness Programme; improving the efficiency of irrigation and optimise water consumption; and supporting research and innovation. The EU-JRDP is a comprehensive project currently operations in the three governorates of Matrouh, Minya and Fayoum. It is financed through a grant from the EU budget for a value of 22 M€ (405 M EGP) and Italy for a value of 11M€ (200 M EGP). In total the European Union and its Member States have been granting Egypt with the equivalent of 600 M EGP.
The EU JRDP main goal is to improve rural livelihood in these three governorates, to respond to poverty challenge with two specific objectives in mind: to increase the sustainable agricultural production especially by improving the management of water resources that are so valuable for Egypt; and to improve rural livelihood by promoting income-generating activities.
In concrete terms the project carried out a range of diverse activities; just to name a few: it developed good agricultural practices; enveloped and promoted eco-tourism, contributed to the improvement of irrigation networks; helped collect plastic waste that is congesting the irrigation network; developed geographic indications; worked on improving animal genetics, and many more.
The diversity of these activities allowed for the project to adapt to the various challenges faced by the rural communities in the three governorates. Proof of the successful impact of these activities is that today 100,000 men, women and young people directly benefit from the project and are better off than they were six years ago. The EU is very proud of this achievement; an achievement made possible thanks to the excellent collective work and co-operation of the Egyptian authorities at the central and governorate levels, the Italian Embassy and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Project Management Unit and its partners, notably the FAO.
This success is an excellent basis for looking ahead and develop new ideas for projects to support rural development; hopefully we can start before the end of 2021 in partnership with our Italian colleagues of AICS and will focus on the governorates of Asyut, Suhag and Damietta. The intention is to apply the same objective of improving rural life but also to respond to the new challenges that COVID 19 is posing to rural areas. We expect a reduction of poverty for individuals and an increase of Egypt’s self-reliance of food supplies and better absorb any disruptions in the food supply chains.
Many thanks and looking forward to working with you at our next Joint Rural Development Project.