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    ICESCO DG: Continuing Land Degradation Threatens Food Security of 70% of African Population

    20 January 2021

    ** Africa needs to shift into smart technologies to preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

    Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, Director-General (DG) of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), reaffirmed that Africa needs to shift to innovative and smart technologies to preserve ecosystems and biodiversity and meet its populations’ needs in terms of agricultural products and food security.

    “The continuing desertification and degradation, which threaten 46% of the African territory, will result in a 20% reduction of agricultural production in Africa. This threatens the social and food security of nearly 70% of the population,” the DG warned.

    The statement was part of Dr. AlMalik’s opening address at the International Conference on Smart Technologies and Resilience for Sustainable Agriculture in Africa that ICESCO held today, January 20, 2021. The videoconference was in cooperation with the Government of Niger, and in partnership with the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS), the World Agricultural Heritage Foundation, the International Centre for Asia and Pacific Studies, the Regional Remote-Sensing Centre for the North African States, and the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology. The event brought together Mr. Mallam Zaneidou Amirou, Minister of Environment of Niger; Ms. Hassan Zeinabou Ibrahim; Minister Delegate in Charge of Decentralization of Niger; and a high-level group of experts and specialists.

    In his address, Dr. AlMalik explained that smart technologies will improve ecosystems and mitigate the impact of climate change through climate-smart agriculture and geospatial technologies. The innovations provide accurate and timely data to assist in decision-making, as well as big data and Artificial Intelligence to ensure precision agriculture, enable farmers to improve incomes and reduce costs and facilitate consumers’ access to proper and healthy food.

    “I am confident that the participants in this Conference will suggest innovative and new options for ICESCO’s Land Degradation Project, developed in cooperation with the Governments of Niger and the Federal Republic of Germany respectively, through the development of innovative, intelligent, geospatial, and entrepreneurial technologies in Niger, which has demonstrated great interest in this project through its high-level participation,” he underscored.

     At the close of his address, ICESCO DG announced that the Organization will launch an award for innovation in agricultural technologies in 2022, provide scholarships in the field of smart agricultural technologies, and support agricultural startups in ICESCO Member States, particularly in Africa.

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