A new partnership agreement was signed between the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, UNDP and ICARDA to link agricultural research in Palestine to the sustainable development goals. This collaboration rests on the shared goal of enhancing food security and improving the livelihoods of rural communities. A technical program has been drafted that will deliver technology, innovation and capacity building to Palestine.
“Through this partnership, we are setting a precedence and priority for our mission here in Palestine”, Roberto Valent, the head of UNDP Office in Palestine said, offering the UN agency’s full commitment to the new technical program at the agreement signing event, held September 5, 2015. The new initiative builds on the longstanding Palestinian-ICARDA partnership on the conservation of dryland agro-biodiversity, crop improvement and seed systems, and water scarcity management.
Dr. Soufian Sultan, Palestine’s Minister of Agriculture, acknowledged the positive impacts of the collaboration with ICARDA that are reflected in improved wheat and barley varieties and better natural resource management. Expressing hope about this new technical agreement he said, “We will explore new opportunities in further expanding collaboration between Palestine and ICARDA.”
Pleased to be part of an integrated strategy and collaborative approach to tackle poverty and enable sustainable development, Mahmoud Solh, Director General of ICARDA, stated, “Poverty and land degradation must be addressed together as they form a vicious cycle – when poverty is high, there is greater exploitation of natural resources, while high resource degradation in-turn fosters poverty”.
The agreed-upon technical program aims to introduce and promote sustainable use and management of land and water and increase productivity and income of smallholder farmers. It also seeks to enhance integration of crop-livestock production systems and strengthen capacities of farmers, scientists and extension and commercial services.
Agriculture is an essential component of people’s livelihoods and economy in Palestine. Around 35% of Palestinian women working in the West Bank and Gaza are employed in the agricultural sector. Sustainable and viable agriculture is, therefore, crucial for eradicating hunger and poverty, empowering women and youth, social protection and environmental sustainability.