In February the 20th United Nations Food
and Agricultural Organization regional conference for Africa took
place in Addis Ababa from Feb. 16-20. According to a Xinhua News Agency
report, the conference focused on improving African food security.
Speaking before the conference, Ethiopian
President Negasso Gidada said achieving food security should be the primary
goal of African governments. This view was echoed by Ahmed Haggag, assistant
secretary general of the Organization of African Unity, who said that
agricultural progress is the key to long term general prosperity in Africa.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf called
for increased irrigation projects.
“There can be no food security in
Africa without controlled utilization and conservation of water resources
and without intensifying production systems,” Diouf said. “Irrigation
is an important element of security in the face of widely fluctuating
rainfall. It is also an ingredient of intensification considering that
irrigated land is twice as productive as rainfed land.”
The FAO meanwhile approved 18 investment
projects in Africa in 1997 for a total cost of $478 million dollars, and
has spent close to $1.8 billion in the region since 1995.
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