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Minister Židan: "The biggest challenge for agriculture will be to adapt to climate change"

Palermo, 28 November 2014 – The Slovenian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Dejan Židan, at the invitation of his Italian counterpart Maurizio Martina – the President of the EU Agriculture Council – attended a Euro-Mediterranean ministerial conference on agriculture. The conference was attended by ministers and high representatives of Mediterranean countries focusing their debate on the importance of the young generation for the development of agriculture, and on the importance of research and innovations in the Mediterranean area.

The 2014 Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Sicily mainly focused on the importance and role of young generations for the development of agriculture, the importance of research activities, cooperation, exchange of experience between the countries concerning sustainable agriculture, and on activities which should be undertaken at the national level and in the Mediterranean area. In his address, Minister Židan drew attention to two ideas that Slovenia supports and which were also mentioned at a recent ministerial meeting in Brussels: "Young farmers, just starting a farming business and facing many questions and obstacles, need additional funds to kick-start their farming business and should also have the European Investment Bank funding available." Minister Židan added that such an idea had to be brought to life as soon as possible because young people cannot wait for better times and are therefore leaving the countryside and abandoning food production activities. He also underscored the idea about cooperation between the countries in exchanging best practices; he stressed that the countries should share their best practices, while pointing to the exemplary performance of the Erasmus student exchange programme. As regards innovations, Mr Židan stressed that we need to find solutions to challenges where protecting nature lies at the forefront in terms of sufficient food production for a growing world population. "Not all the solutions for adapting to climate change have been found and agricultural production is not ready to deal with natural disasters." In this context, he brought attention to natural disasters that have hit Slovenia in recent years, pointing to droughts and floods. Consequently, science and research should come up with answers and solutions to these challenges as soon as possible.

 

At the conference, a joint declaration was adopted, in which the Euro-Mediterranean countries committed themselves to increasing the role of young farmers in agriculture, innovations and research on agriculture, the fight against food waste and towards adapting to climate change.

 

The first Euro-Mediterranean Conference on Agriculture was held in Venice in November 2003, during which the participating 35 countries focused on the strengthening of relations between EU and Mediterranean countries in the field of agriculture, food and rural areas, particularly highlighting the need of the Mediterranean countries to pursue sustainable rural development, the preservation of agriculture in less-favoured and mountain areas. The conference in Sicily was also attended by the Italian Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies and the President of the EU Agriculture Council, Maurizio Martina, and the ministers of Mediterranean countries or their deputies. Among the participants were also Director-General of the FAO Jose Graziano da Silva, co-chairmen of the conference and Egypt's Minister of Agriculture Adel El-Beltagy, CEJA President Matteo Bartolini, Italian Minister for Education Stefania Giannini and representatives of the European Commission.

 

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