Date: Thursday, 26 October 2017
“Strengthening our implementation and resource utilization capacity will catalyze objectives of food security”; President Isaias Afwerki-Part 1, 2 & 3
Written by shabait Administrator |
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 00:31 |
Q: President Isaias Afwerki gave a live radio and television interview with national media outlets on the 7th of October, focusing on various domestic and regional developments. Excerpts of the first part of the interview follow:
Q: Mr. President, while it was okay in terms of its coverage when it started, people were concerned that this year’s rainfall did not start at the expected time. In relation to this issue, how do you assess the general achievements associated with food security in Eritrea?
Indisputably, food is a very basic concern for every citizen and food security is an important priority. However, as food security may be associated with subsistence, we need to be strategic enough to think beyond food security. The ultimate objective in relation to this issue has to be the improvements in the quality of life of citizens. Further, instead of limiting our food security strategy to our current situation, we should think strategically in terms of what has to be done in terms of improving the quality of life of citizens in proportion or in response to population increase in five, ten, fifteen years. In our long term strategy, we should also think in terms of producing surplus food that can be exported as there are potential opportunities to do so. Hence, our strategic goals in the agricultural sector and other sectors have to be designed and assessed from such a long-term perspective associated with improving the overall quality of life of our people.
More importantly, we need to be much more concerned about the fundamental investments that serve as preconditions to food security. One such fundamental precondition is water resources management. More emphasis has to be placed on irrigational projects considering the significant value they add to rainwater-fed harvest. For this purpose, preserving water becomes a key priority. Therefore, to make optimal use of the potentially available water resources in the country we need to have a comprehensively effective strategy for preserving and controlling water resources.
In the last 25 years, as part of our endeavors to preserve and control water resources, we have constructed dams, check dams and water diversion canals in different areas and accordingly we have acquired significant cumulative experiences. For these efforts to be further fruitful, catchment areas and their sources need to be studied properly and our water preservation strategy needs to be comprehensive enough to incorporate terracing and afforestation activities. We need to focus not only on the catchment areas. We should also equally focus on the water source areas in our water resources management endeavors.
Making use of the water resources of the Barka, Gash, and Anseba rivers, as well as those eastern rivers extending from Qarora to the Assab areas, is a long-term process and requires substantial investments, resource mobilization, capacity, and sacrifices. However, without doing this, food security projects can hardly be achievable. When judged in terms of the challenges we experienced in the last 25 years, what we have so far achieved is promising and this will catalyze what we have planned for the coming 5 to 10 years.
What comes next to preserving water is making optimal use of what has been stored. For this purpose, the traditional production system needs to be transformed by employing appropriate technology so that we can boost our agricultural produce; we need to be capable to harvest two or three times in a year by multiplying our production capacity effectively and efficiently. In addition to boosting agricultural harvest, improving livestock conditions and our cash crops production capacity are important components of our strategy to ensuring food security. It has to be noted that our strategic orientation focuses not only on ensuring food security but also on producing surplus food to be exported.
Therefore, we need to have strategic projects that are suitable to the varying situations of the three economic development zones of Eritrea. Apart from the some minor projects associated with drinking water demands, so far major water resources utilization projects have not been part of our priorities in the eastern lowland. In the western lowlands the utilization rate is not more than 20 percent of the preserved water. Hence, the tasks ahead are very demanding. However, the experiences we have gained are adequately useful.
To enhance productivity and improve the utilization capacity linked with the stored water resources, we need to invest substantially in technological facilities, equipment, chemicals, and the like so that we can have our mode of production transformed. It is encouraging that we have created an enabling environment that will serve as a stepping stone for further achievements in the future. Food security is not that problematic in Eritrea and we do not need to be that concerned about this issue. Given the enabling environment that we have created and the future strategic plans we have designed, strengthening our implementation capacity and our resources utilization capacity further is likely to effectively catalyze the efforts aiming at ensuring food security....................
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