The Minister of Agriculture, Riyad al-'Atari, underlines the importance of supporting farmers and establishing partnership with civil society organizations
RAMALLAH, April 27, 2019 - the Minister of Agriculture, Riyad al-‘Atari, stressed the importance of UAWC’s work in protecting the land and promoting farmers’ resilience towards achieving self-sufficiency. The Minster also called for cooperation in order promote agricultural projects for youth, thereby transforming young graduates into skilled agricultural workers who bring life back to the earth and seek to deepen their commitment to the land.
Moreover, Al-‘Atari called for an open dialogue with UAWC to discuss the importance of its role extending from Jenin to Rafah in strengthening the Palestinian agricultural sector over the past decades, in addition to encouraging open partnership with civil society organizations in Palestine.
The Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Riyad Al-‘Atari, delivered his speech during the opening session of UAWC’s General Assembly at the headquarters of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Al-Bireh.
In his speech, Al-‘Atari noted that the government will provide support for the agricultural sector, adding that Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, fully supports this sector.
The ministry has also prepared a comprehensive plan for the next three months with the aim of furthering the resilience of Palestinian farmers on their land, underling that the plan will be implemented in Jerusalem, the West Bank, as well as the Gaza Strip.
Al-‘Atari highlighted that the Palestinian struggle should serve as source of unity and solidarity with our farmers; as we must appreciate the current struggle for our national cause, and pay tribute to the families of the martyrs, the wounded, and prisoners in Israeli prisons.
For his part, the Director General of UAWC, Mr. Fuad Abu Saif, underscored the significance of the Minister’s participation in the General Assembly meeting, as it solidifies our solidarity with Palestinian farmers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In addition, Mr. Abu Saif emphasized UAWC’s readiness to advance the strategic partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture such that national agricultural strategies are implemented, which enable us to counteract violations by the Israeli government, most notably its annexation strategies. Lastly, UAWC with its staff, workers and farmers, are optimistic that the next phase will constitute a stage of transformation in the Palestinian agricultural sector, by primarily focusing on youth and women. As such, UAWC will adopt new strategies and budgets that aptly address the size of the challenges and risks faced by the Palestinian agricultural sector.
UAWC's chairman, Mr. Rizeq Al-Barghouthi, expressed the vitality of cooperation between all Palestinian institutions, ministries and the private sector to support Palestinian farmers who face Israeli violations on a daily basis. He also stressed the need to promote development projects that drive agricultural productivity and enhance the operational capacity of the agricultural sector towards achieving food sovereignty in Palestine.
On another note, representative of the NGO Network, Ms. Shatha Odeh, emphasized the crucial role UAWC plays as a pillar of the Palestinian agricultural sector, especially as it operates in difficult contexts and environments. However, such difficulties did not hinder UAWC’s dedication to working in the development sector, nor did it prevent it from continuing to build a social movement and become a member of the global peasant movement, La Via Campesina. Hence, Palestine's membership in La Via Campesina through UAWC signifies a crucial step in raising the voice of the Palestinian farmer in the international arena.
As a representative of the international partner organizations, the director of Medico International, Ms. Maryam, stated that UAWC is a civil society institution committed to a development approach and confronting neoliberal policies, thereby embodying a grassroots institution committed to providing representation of the needs and demands of Palestinian farmers. Ms Maryam added that the inciting campaigns launched against UAWC are due to the fact that it is affecting real change on the land and in the lives of vulnerable households in areas "C".
The General Assembly of UAWC concluded its regular annual meeting by approving the administrative, financial reports, and the guidelines for the 2019 budget after discussing it with the members in the West Bank and Gaza. In addition, it was approved that Ernst & Young will be UAWC’s auditor for the fiscal year 2019. UAWC reaffirms its commitment to protecting the land and supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian farmers despite great challenges that are annually increasing as a result of Israeli policies.