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المؤتمر الصحفي ..سوسة النخيل 1.jpg
المؤتمر الصحفي..سوسة النخيل.jpg

UAE to Host Conference of Agricultural Ministers of World’s Date Producing and Processing Countries in March

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the UAE is set to host the Conference of Agricultural Ministers of the World’s Date Producing and Processing Countries.

Organized by the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the event will run from March 9 to 10, 2019. The conference will aim to develop a framework strategy for the eradication of the red palm weevil, in addition to endorsing the establishment of a credit fund to finance its implementation.

Amid growing international concern about the danger the red palm weevil poses to the health of palm trees and, ultimately, the future of date production, the event will convene ministers of agriculture from date producing and processing countries around the world as well as heads of concerned international organizations.

Announcing the event at a press conference at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi, were His Excellency Eng Saif Mohammed Al Shara, Assistant Undersecretary for the Sustainable Communities Sector and Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Food Diversity Sector at MOCCAE, His Excellency Dr Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa at FAO, and His Excellency Prof Abdelouahhab Zaid, Secretary General of Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation, attended the press conference.

His Excellency Eng Al Shara said: “Given their cultural and heritage significance, palm trees are highly regarded in the UAE. The commitment of the country’s wise leadership to palm tree conservation has boosted date production. At present, two-thirds of the UAE’s agricultural land is dedicated to cultivating date palms, and dates constitute 60 percent of its agricultural produce. Efforts to preserve the fruit-bearing trees have led to the UAE becoming the fourth-largest date-exporting country in the world with an 8.5 percent market share.”

He added: “MOCCAE realizes the potential devastation the red palm weevil can cause and has taken several measures to counter this menace. In 2012, the Ministry launched the ‘Nakheelna’ (Our Palm Trees) initiative to step up control of date palm pests through integrated pest management and to increase the contribution of date palm cultivation and production and affiliated industries to the national income.”

His Excellency Eng Al Shara noted that hosting the global conference in the UAE testifies to the country’s important role in driving research and development related to eradicating palm pests.

For his part, His Excellency Dr Ould Ahmed said: “FAO has always remained committed to supporting the cultivation of palm trees in the Near East and North Africa region, which is home to an estimated 100 million palm trees cultivated over an area of one million hectares. This region accounts for around 90 percent of the world’s date palms.”

He added: “The red palm weevil is among the greatest threats to palm trees worldwide. To date, the pest has caused losses to over 50 million farms. In the Mediterranean countries alone, the damage is estimated at €483 million. Insufficient cooperation between regional authorities and a lack of awareness among farmers have led to an increased spread of the destructive pest. Next month’s conference will help address these challenges and advance our fight against the red palm weevil.”

His Excellency Prof Zaid commended the endeavors of the UAE’s government institutions, headed by MOCCAE, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), and Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Center (ADFSC), in combatting the devastation posed by the red palm weevil. He noted that despite the work done so far, the magnitude of the challenge at the regional and global levels exceeds expectations, as the pest is easily transmitted across borders. Therefore, effective cooperation between countries producing and processing dates around the world is necessary to eradicate this common threat.

His Excellency Prof Zaid added: “In collaboration with MOCCAE and FAO, Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation seeks to integrate international efforts to beat this scourge, mobilize resources, and identify opportunities. One of the objectives of the upcoming conference is to establish an international credit fund to finance the implementation of a unified framework strategy that will support each country’s national endeavors in this regard.”

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