WEST BANK AND GAZA STRIP
Bridging Emergency and Development
PROPOSED STRATEGY FOR FAO ASSISTANCE
1 May 2009
i. The report “Bridging Emergency and Development – Medium Term Strategy for FAO Assistance” has been prepared by an FAO team in March/April 2009 following a request from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to develop and institutionalize the relationship between the PNA and FAO through the formulation of an appropriate framework and strategy for FAO assistance to the Palestinian agricultural sector.
ii. The report proposes an FAO Strategy for assisting the Palestinian National Authority, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and other concerned agricultural sector stakeholders in the transition from emergency to sustainable development. Its main findings and conclusions are based on: i) consultations with Government officials in Ramallah including Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Planning and other Government authorities, national NGOs, FAO field staff in Jerusalem and multilateral and bilateral donors; ii) the work done by FAO on emergency projects; iii) the agricultural sector priorities highlighted in various policy documents including the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP), MoA policy statements and other relevant subsector papers; and iv) the ongoing and planned activities of major multilateral and bilateral donors. Although reference is made in this report to the FAO‟s portfolio in food security information, analysis, institution building and coordination, this report mainly focuses on the overall FAO strategy for agricultural sector development.
iii. In the last few years the agricultural sector of Palestine has lost its capacity to contribute effectively to the economic development of the country, for a number of causes. First and foremost the political situation and the restrictions imposed on the movement of people, of trade and marketing in general, the difficult access to land and natural resources, the availability of agricultural inputs and the overall climate of uncertainty which does not provide any incentive for the private sector to invest in agricultural development. And second, structural constraints which are inherent to the way the Palestinian agriculture has developed and that have been compounded by the lack of effective sector strategies that would have provided guidance to the implementation of priority programs, coordinating the activities of government, the private sector and donors.
iv. Most Palestinian products for the domestic markets are not competitive in terms of quality compared to similar products coming from Israel, marketing strategies are still traditional, the problem of irrigation water availability is compounded by weak enforcement of existing laws, and agricultural services – with main reference to extension services – are inadequate to the requirements of the sector. The marginalisation of the Palestinian agricultural sector has had consequences and implications on all aspects of rural people lives and has resulted in continued deterioration of rural infrastructure and a raising poverty rate in the rural areas compared to the urban centers.
v. The political scenario in Palestine may change significantly in the short to medium term. In case of changes, both internal and external markets would have to operate in the context of a free market economy. The Palestinian agricultural producers would not be able to compete unless farm productivity is dramatically improved, focussing on those products which could enjoy a comparative advantage. Besides, the scenarios that would need to be constructed will have to include considerations that would go beyond the technical and economic comparative advantage with full recognition of the many other aspects that contribute to give to the agricultural sector of Palestine a unique responsibility for the development of the Palestinian society. These include the role of agriculture in national food security, in poverty alleviation, as a source of employment, in rural incomes diversification, in maintaining sustainable land management practices, in ensuring that Palestinian lands remain cultivated and used according to their potential and last but not least, in contributing to the livelihoods of the rural people, keeping traditional values and building up social capital.
vi. The PRDP 2008-2010 includes four high level national policy goals: Safety and Security, Good Governance, Increased National Prosperity and Enhanced Quality of Life. It recognizes the role of the agricultural sector as a critical productive sector with an immediate impact on economic recovery and food security. An “Agribusiness Development” program is proposed to promote the cultivation of high value-added cash crops and increased exports to regional and global markets. The Palestinian private sector will be the engine of sustainable economic growth to generate productive employment, to produce high value added from goods and services and to enhance national prosperity.
vii. A modern, competitive agriculture that responds to the needs of local and foreign markets is the main goal of the MoA “Palestinian Agricultural Policy” paper revised in 2004. This objective will be achieved by promoting the optimal exploitation of agricultural resources based on economic viability and efficiency as well as social equity, taking an integrated rural development approach, promoting people's participation, improving the competitiveness of agricultural products in local and foreign markets, strengthening the institutional and legislative framework and encouraging regional cooperation and integration.
viii. Notwithstanding Government and donors' commitment, achievements as far as the agricultural sector is concerned have been limited and the activities indicated as priority by the PRDP have yet to materialize. The preparation of the new PRDP (2011-2013) which will start early 2010 will have to take stock of actual constraints, possibilities and impending policy changes and build up a rational economic development plan that could immediately be translated into operational programmes. A fresh new look at the requirements of the agricultural sector and stakeholders' priorities is urgently needed to address the State building goal.
ix. FAO's main objective in WBGS is to provide a safety net for food insecure farming households that can no longer rely on traditional livelihoods. FAO's beneficiaries are predominantly low income farmers and herders, many of whom are women, whose limited access to inputs and capital prevents them from diversifying and expanding production. FAO plays a coordinating role among the UN agencies, authorities and NGOs working to sustain agricultural production and increase food security: it is currently running a portfolio of twenty emergency and rehabilitation projects addressing all agricultural subsectors at farm and institutional levels across WBGS, worth more than USD 17 million and benefiting more than 8000 Palestinian households or around 56000 people. FAO is also contributing to the strengthening of food security interventions in WBGS in three main areas: improved information and needs response, improved policy research and institutional capacity building and inter-stakeholders coordination.
x. The proposed FAO strategy for assisting the agricultural sector of WBGS in the transition from emergency to development is based on the PRDP and the MoA policy priorities, on the ongoing FAO emergency and rehabilitation work, on the FAO's coordination role in the CAP, on the UN Medium Term Response Plan (MTRP), and on FAO comparative advantage and technical strengths.
xi. In line with its mandate, FAO has developed specific competence and experience in agricultural development normative work and technical fields which have a direct impact on food security, nutrition and standards of living of the rural people, on the production and distribution of food and agricultural products, on the livelihoods of rural communities and on the provision and access to sufficient nutritionally adequate and safe food. FAO can assist in the formulation of agricultural policies that contribute effectively to the economic and social development of the country and to the conservation, improvement and sustainable utilization of natural resources. Capacity building bringing together technical cooperation and access to knowledge and experience is an integral part of the work of FAO both as a facilitator and provider.
xii. FAO assistance in the Medium Term would focus on capacity building of farmers and farmer groups – the main stakeholders of the agricultural sector – institution building, technology transfer to improve crop and livestock productivity, diversification of farming systems and providing the technical justification for investments in infrastructure and services (extension, input supply, etc.) which will have to proceed in parallel to the institution capacity building effort in order to maximize impact. Initiatives targeting farmer groups, associations, communities, are the vehicle through which some of the ongoing FAO emergency and rehabilitation projects would be expanded to full scale, sustainable projects.
xiii. The contribution of FAO to the agricultural development of WBGS would be based on robust information and analyses and realized in full coordination and cooperation with partner PNA institutions, UN agencies, local and international organizations and donors, aiming at synergies and complementarities with ongoing and future programmes to facilitate the transition from emergency to development.
xiv. The setting of criteria for selecting priorities for FAO assistance would be important in order to utilize available limited resources effectively. In broad terms, to qualify for FAO assistance projects would have to comply with: i) MoA priorities, ii) the main strategic goals of programmes and projects implemented through PNA and Donors' initiatives, and iii) FAO comparative advantage and the technical fields of FAO specific competence. FAO activities would be coordinated with Government and Donors'‟programmes through the FAO participation in the Agricultural Sector Working Group.
xv. More in detail, consideration would be given inter alia to the following:
- the present socio-economic situation in the rural areas and the minimum conditions and requirements for a smooth transition from emergency to sustainable development;
- the institutional support which would be made available by Government institutions and NGOs;
- synergies and complementarities with development funds made available by the international community;
- FAO's general requirements for strengthening the quality of FAO's field programme, ensuring that projects contribute towards the achievement of the World Food Summit objectives and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG); and
- the need for a flexible approach so as to adapt to an environment in transition and to a medium term perspective which could eventually require a change in emphasis and refocusing of some main activities.
xvi. Following on the above it is proposed to plan FAO assistance to the MoA for the Medium Term (2010-2015) on a “rolling” basis, considering that a concrete programme of work for the immediate future (the short term) has already been identified and that projects for implementation in the subsequent years would be prepared by the Government and FAO during the first two years of programme implementation.
xvii. The FAO programme for the short term would include:
- continuation of FAO assistance for ongoing emergency and rehabilitation projects and for those planned or in the pipeline;
- assistance for the preparation of an Agricultural Sector Strategy (the “Vision”) and for the setting up in the MoA of a facility for strengthening the General Directorate for Planning and Policy (GDPP) specifically on policy and project planning and monitoring and evaluation. The assistance to be provided to the GDPP would build on and be fully integrated with the ongoing project “Capacity building for the Ministry of Agriculture” funded by the Spanish Cooperation. This project includes a component under FAO responsibility, to provide technical advice to the MoA in: 1) managing APIS, 2) conducting a needs assessment for MoA capacity building, and 3) developing a three-year action plan for this capacity building.
xviii. For the medium term the following programme of work is provisionally proposed:
1. Assessment of the ongoing FAO supported emergency and rehabilitation work and of other projects that would come in the pipeline and identification and preparation of follow up projects/activities that would be coherent with the “Vision” statement, that would represent a priority for the MoA and for other concerned stakeholders and that would deserve expansion to large scale for implementation as fully sustainable development projects.
2. FAO technical assistance projects consistent with FAO comparative advantage. They would be implemented following MoA request and on a first come, first served basis.
3. Assistance for the preparation of large scale investment projects for agricultural sector development providing additional support to the MoA in the case of particularly complex projects and sector or subsector programs for external financing where FAO experience would be of added value.
4. Assistance to the institutionalization of a Food Security Monitoring System and a National Food Security Council.
xix. Appropriate monitoring tools would be included in the implementation of the Medium Term Strategy for FAO Assistance to the Agricultural Sector of WBGS taking into account the need to leave as much flexibility as possible in the annual planning so as to be able to introduce modifications as needed. FAO and MoA will discuss and set up appropriate arrangements for the annual review of the joint work programme as soon as convenient.
xx. The findings and conclusions drafted in this report will be discussed during the third week of May 2009 in a meeting to be held in Ramallah between representatives of MoA, other Government officials and FAO staff and any other participants to be invited at MoA discretion.