CropLife Africa Middle East MENA Regional Hub Meeting in Amman, Jordan on the topic of “Agricultural Innovation: Challenges and Solutions Towards Sustainable Food Systems

On 11 & 12 July 2023, CropLife Africa Middle East held its Middle East North Africa Regional Hub Meeting in Amman, Jordan, under the banner “Agricultural Innovation: Challenges and Solutions Towards Sustainable Food Systems.”

The objectives of the meeting were to:

  • Ascertain the status of regulatory frameworks for biologicals and critical challenges for rebuilding sustainable food systems;
  • Establish mechanisms to accelerate the registration of biologicals in the MENA region;
  • Exchange ideas and practices for the future of stewardship, including personal protective equipment adoption management and resistance management;
  • Share the latest sustainable policy developments in the EU that may impact trade in agricultural commodities between the MENA region and the EU.

CropLife Africa Middle East and AMATPA (Agricultural Materials Traders & Producer Association) were honored to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Jordan Ministry of Agriculture, showing the significant role of agricultural innovation moving forward in ensuring food security and improving farmers’ livelihoods.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all participants for their presence, notably representatives from our hosts, the Jordan Ministry of Agriculture, other regulatory authorities from the MENA region, industry and CropLife network.

Some critical messages from the meeting – Day #1:

Transforming Regulatory Framework for biologicals in the MENA region:

Access to biological products is critical as an additional tool in the farmer’s hands to fight pests and diseases. Yet, regulatory frameworks to facilitate their registrations are still largely in progress in most MENA region countries. Country representatives resolved to foster information exchange amongst themselves and to put in place policies, laws, regulations, guidelines and administrative instruments that recognize the types of products, ensure a reduced data requirements package, risk-based approach and have a fast-track system.

Persisting challenges in stewardship in the MENA region:
  • PPE adoption in the MENA region is a challenge due to the unavailability on the market, the climate in MENA region, which makes it uncomfortable for farmers to use PPEs, and ignorance/lack of training.
  • Governments should create an enabling environment for the sale/importation of PPEs and provide opportunities for awareness creation.
  • The role of the industry and CropLife towards PPE adoption should consist in raising awareness, providing training, and creating linkages with the government and other key industry stakeholders to ensure effective end-to-end awareness creation on the use of PPEs.
  • What will shape stewardship in the future for more effectiveness are the use of behavior science and technology to increase impact, innovation and technology – digital stewardship, drones, biologicals, incident management driving down incidents through improved data focussing responsible use, building on stewardship platforms to include promotion of sustainable agriculture.
Resistance management is vital to IPM, and CL AME takes resistance management seriously. However, there is limited knowledge of pest resistance.
  • There is a need to assess the need for resistance management in the MENA region–scoping study.
  • Policy or Regulatory measures are needed to support resistance management efforts – Mode of Action labeling, awareness.
  • Agricultural institutions and policymakers must utilize the expertise of IRAC/RACs in resistance management to benefit of agriculture, especially in the developing world.

Below our key takeaway messages from day #2 of CropLife Africa Middle East Regional Hub Meeting under the banner of “Agricultural Innovation: Challenges and Solutions Towards Sustainable Food Systems”, in Amman, Jordan.

Day #2 :

When it comes to pesticides safety:
  • It was noted that vector control is a cornerstone for preventing insect-borne illness – a leading cause of death in the world for people ;
  • Vector control is also critical for managing invasive species which crowd out indigenous plants & animals, demolishing habitat and biodiversity ;
  • There is a need to control insects, as insects and arachnoids turn out to be the #1 cause of morbidity & mortality worldwide affecting humans and livestock ;
  • Regarding residues in our foods, a 55kg-adult needs to eat 11 pounds of soybean/day to reach ADI. – it is the dose that makes the poison; e.g., botox can be a hazard but its not a risk if you use the right dose.
Regarding policy developments – notably the EU Green Deal:
  • Green Diplomacy, Environmental trade criteria, EU exports ban will impact food security in the MENA region, trade with the EU, and farmers' livelihoods;
  • Countries around the world are provided with opportunities to voice their concerns about the impact of such policy developments in their own country (through EU public consultations, WTO) – it is key to seize these opportunities;
  • Transitioning towards sustainable food systems is needed, but such transition should be tailored to the Middle East's region uniqueness, as pests, agronomic and climatic conditions vary across regions - a 'One size' approach does not fit all.
  • CropLife AME calls for an Africa-localized green transition
Communication is key, and it is the foundation of sharing information:
  • What: there is a need to think critically and not shy away – we need to communicate externally about the sector's 'truth vs. myths' ;
  • When: there is a need to communicate at the right time;
  • How: it cannot be assumed that science is enough – there is a need to connect people to science;
  • Communication is not a one-size-fits-all approach either. It should be early, and impactful with the objectives of dialogues.