By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 7 February 2013:
The 17th ministerial meeting of the Arab Maghreb Union’s food security committee opened in Tripoli today, . . .[restrict]Thursday, with a call from the union’s Secretary General for closer North African integration.
Habib Ben Yahya said in his keynote speech that, given the challenges facing the global economy, there had to be stronger collaboration by union members – Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.
The meeting was chaired by Libya’s agriculture, livestock and fisheries minister, Ahmed Al-Urfi who in his address said that the world was witnessing a crisis in food production and a shortfall in the strategic food reserves, resulting in rising prices. This was made worse by recurrent droughts due to climate change. AMU members had to “work together to help our people overcome the repeated crises of food shortages”, he said.
These were having disastrous effects, he explained. They included high rates of poverty, ignorance and unemployment, and they led to an increase in rates of immigration and to extremism, not to mention disease and malnutrition.
For his part ,the head of the Algerian delegation, Salahaddin Kalil, said that North Africa was undergoing momentous change and in the circumstances it needed to ensure food security and availability at prices people could afford, otherwise there would be security consequences.
In their statement at the end of the meeting the participants also stressed the need to address the issues of desertification and climate change in the region. [/restrict]