Why the Arab Network for Food Sovereignty?
Arab countries have among the highest food import dependency rates, making the region highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the supply and price of the international food market. Despite the fact that agriculture employs between 53 percent and 84 percent of the Arab labour force, the region imports approximately half its caloric intake and is the largest cereal importer in the world.
There are several factors contributing to the agricultural incompetence in the region. Environmental factors, particularly water scarcity and climate change undoubtedly play a role in reducing productive potential, while high population growth rates of over 2% add pressure to increasingly scarce resources. More importantly, however, are the nutrition, environmental and agricultural policies that primarily determine the level of regional food security. The decline in investment in agricultural productivity and the absence of governmental support for infrastructure and extension services have caused detrimental effects on the state of production and resource sustainability. Moreover, the high import dependency ratio has dire consequences for food stability, considering the high likelihood of disruption in trade due to chronic regional conflicts and crises.
The sector requires targeted investment on agriculture, research and development, and technology at the national and regional levels. Governments must empower smallholder farmers and work to reduce losses and wastes from the sector. New policies are needed to harness a sustainable agricultural sector that manages and protects essential natural resources, including water, land, and seed. The region, the birthplace of agriculture, has incredible potential to boost productivity and enhance food security. The Arab Network for Food Sovereignty was initiated to work towards achieving that potential.
The Arab Network for Food Sovereignty aims to achieve the following goals:
1. Promote concepts, practices, and strategies for food and natural resource sovereignty in the Arab world;
2. Improve institutional and community capacity to enhance the role and effectiveness of civil society organizations working in the fields of agriculture and food security;
3. Embrace, encourage, and mobilize innovative and creative initiatives, activities, and campaigns in the areas of food security and food sovereignty at the community and institutional levels.
4. Strengthen the cooperation and coordination of Arab, regional and global networking to exchange expertise and to serve the vision and strategy of the Network;
5. Influence governmental and non-governmental policies and regulations on the local, national, and international levels to achieve food and natural resource sovereignty.
The General Assembly of the Arab Network for Food Sovereignty met in Beirut on the 30th of March, 2018, and voted for the following Executive Committee:
1. President: The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature – Jordan
2. Vice president: National Confederation for Traditional Fishing in Morocco – Morocco
3. Secretary: Al Ouzai Fishermen Cooperative – Lebanon
4. Treasurer: Palestinian Farmers’ Union – Palestine
5. Public relations: Qatar Program for Sustainable Development – Qatar
6. Member: The National Fishing Federation – Artisanal section (FNP) – Mauritania
7 Member: National Observatory of Participatory Citizenship -Tunisia
8. Member: Hawa Association – Sudan
9. Member: Iraqi Society for Consumer Rights Defense – Iraq
- In 2019, APN organized the ANFS executive meeting in Amman, where Executive Board members met to review its strategic plan and to endorse its administrative and financial reports. (More) APN also held the first Regional ANFS-PCFS meeting. (More)
- In 2018, the ANFS held its General Assembly in Beirut, and in collaboration with APN, organized a multistakeholder regional workshop on the implications of protracted crises on food security and nutrition in the Arab region. The conference was held in partnership with ESCWA.
- On behalf of ANFS, APN participated in the Food and Agriculture Organization’s 43rd Regional Conference for the Near East, in Rome. The conference was attended by 11 ministers and 144 participants from 26 member states.
- In 2016, ANFS held its General Assembly in Amman, Jordan, in collaboration with APN. This was followed by an open meeting titled “the Institutionalization of Partnerships to Enhance Food Security and Nutrition in Jordan and the Arab World.”
- In 2016, ANFS and APN spoke on the right to self-determination at a series of events in Manila and Davao, Philippines.
- In 2013 APN and La Via Campesina organized an event at the World Social Forum in Tunisia to discuss the goals and aspirations of the Arab Network for Food Sovereignty. (More).
- In 2013, the ANFS co-organized the FAO’s Second Arab Civil Society Consultative Workshop on Food Security and Nutrition in Amman. (Find a copy of the Final Declaration of the Arab Civil Society Consultation (here).
- In 2013, ESCWA and APN invited ANFS members as Arab Civil Society representatives at the Expert Group Meeting on Green Agricultural Value Chains for Improving Livelihood in the Arab Region. (More)
- In 2012, APN organized the first Arab Civil Society Consultative Workshop on Food Security and Nutrition, in Beirut, during which the ANFS was formed. Major recommendations reached by the participants were presented to the 33rd FAO Regional Conference for the Near East, in Rome.