(L to R) Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Abdul Hakim Elwaer, FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa, at the agreement signing at Expo 2020 Dubai on Saturday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: On this year’s World Food Day (October 16) on Saturday, the UAE strengthened its partnership with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) through two agreements aimed at helping cut hunger and poverty in Zimbabwe and supporting food security in GCC and Yemen.

The first agreement was signed for the ‘Hand-in-Hand Zimbabwe- Smallholder Horticulture Recovery and Inclusion Project [SHRIP]’ and the second involved renewing the Credit Fund for the Sub-Regional Coordinator for the GCC and Yemen.

The agreements form part of the UAE’s efforts to promote world food security, strengthen food systems, and contribute to eliminating hunger worldwide.

The two agreements were signed in the presence of Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, with their terms aiming to strengthen the collaboration between the UAE and FAO by facilitating bilateral involvement in projects dedicated towards ensuring the availability of sustainable food in areas affected by poverty, globally.

Also present were Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs; Abdul Hakim Elwaer, FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa; Dr Dino Franciscoti Motis, FAO’s Sub-Regional Coordinator for the GCC and Yemen; and Lovemore Mazemo, Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the UAE.

Project in Zimbabwe

As per the first agreement, the UAE will financially support the project in Zimbabwe to reduce hunger and poverty among smallholder farmers by engaging them in the markets. The FAO will implement the project as per certain standards, including the fulfilment of technical procedures and terms with the aim of achieving the highest benefit from available financial support. The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment will oversee and ensure the project’s implementation in line with the UAE’s development goals.

“Led by a visionary leadership, the UAE strives to strengthen its strategic partnerships with international entities that work to support food security, establish sustainable food systems and tackle the most pressing global challenges, including hunger, poverty and climate change,” said Almheiri.

To achieve this, she said, the UAE follows the highest sustainability standards and implements environment-friendly solutions as part of international-based support programmes coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

“These efforts have resulted in numerous partnerships, such as the one we celebrate today with FAO - one of our most significant partners regionally and internationally. We are excited about this collaboration as it supports the efforts of the Sub-Regional Coordinator for the GCC and Yemen, as well as their ambitious projects and initiatives, through which we aim to achieve a better future for the food-related sectors and sustainable development in the UAE and the region.”

The minister said the Zimbabwe agreement reflects the UAE’s commitment to establishing collaborations across different areas of the world and enabling smallholder farmers to improve their lives, income, and economic status.

“At the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment we are committed to ensuring the successful implementation of the project and are delighted to have the opportunity to complement the sterling work of the FAO,” she added.

Al Shamsi said one of the most important mechanisms for implementing the UAE foreign aid is strengthening international partnerships and working with international partners, especially international organisations such as the FAO for its leading role in implementing projects aimed at eliminating hunger in developing countries.

Aligned with aid policy

“Today, we are pleased to cooperate with FAO in the implementation of a development project in one of the friendly African countries, ‘Zimbabwe’, as the project aims to improve family income levels in rural areas, and aligns with the UAE foreign aid policy towards supporting the achievement of sustainable development goals in beneficiary countries,” he added.

FAO’s Elwaer said: “The UAE has been one of our most important partners in the region. It has made numerous contributions to our efforts to provide urgent solutions to boost long-term food security in areas with the greatest need, both regionally and globally. I am delighted about the UAE continuing its annual financial support to the region’s Sub-Regional Coordinator Office and contributing to the success of the ‘Hand-in-Hand Zimbabwe-Smallholder Horticulture Recovery and Inclusion Project’.”

He added: “We are committed to strengthening our collaboration with the UAE and other countries in the region to develop effective solutions for food challenges and invest the FAO’s technical experiences in helping these countries enhance food security by following the best and latest solutions internationally,” Elwaer added.