The Lebanese capital, Beirut, hosted (Thursday) the meetings of the Ministers of Agriculture in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. The ministers discussed the most important challenges facing the agricultural sector, and the possibility of concluding agreements between the four countries.
According to a statement published by the media office of the Lebanese Prime Minister, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati stressed that “achieving food security is one of the main priorities for Arab countries, especially in light of recent events in the world, which revealed a deep gap that should be noted.”
In opening the meetings, Mikati pointed to the need to adjust the order of priorities and focus primarily on the agricultural and food sectors, as well as the exchange and integration of production, in addition to simplifying export and import procedures and the flow of people and expertise.
He stressed “the need to formulate a new framework to promote and develop agricultural trade exchange, to overcome obstacles related to agricultural and veterinary quarantine procedures, transport and transit procedures, and to establish joint four-way cooperation in the agricultural field,” and that “it should be generalized to all Arab countries.”
Mikati added: “Lebanon, which suffers from political, economic, and social problems, is looking forward to its brothers and friends to stand by it in its ordeal so that it can return to playing its pivotal role within its Arab family.”
The Iraqi Minister of Agriculture, Muhammad Karim al-Khafaji, said, “An agreement was signed, on Wednesday, to establish a joint marketing association for the four countries, to facilitate procedures for entering goods, to establish cold stores, and to facilitate the process of controlling the agricultural calendar.”
He added, ” I believe that the Agricultural Products Marketing Association has the elements of its success, and this great trade exchange can take place between member countries.”
In turn, the Lebanese Minister of Agriculture Abbas Hajj Hassan said: “Through this summit, we aspire to discuss the most important challenges facing the agricultural sector in the region, especially the challenges of climate change, water scarcity, and the spread of diseases and epidemics, and to search for ways to confront them by activating cooperation and forging real partnerships in what is Between us”.
For his part, the Jordanian Minister of Agriculture, Khaled Al-Hanaifat, explained that the topics of the summit included “examining agricultural and veterinary quarantine procedures, transport and transit procedures, developing joint projects in cooperation with international organizations concerned with the agricultural field, and simplifying the procedures for registering agricultural and veterinary production inputs of fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, and vaccines.”
The Syrian Minister of Agriculture, Muhammad Hassan Qatna, pointed out that the nucleus of the quartet meeting was launched on the sidelines of the Regional Conference for the Near East of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Iraq last February.