The thirty-fourth FAO Regional Conference for the Near East at the ministerial level, which includes Arab countries, started in Rome today.
In a new report prepared for discussion during the conference, FAO said that the labour force in Arab countries has declined by 25 percent in the past 45 years.
The report of the labour force survey result indicated that the rate of workers in the agricultural sector in Arab countries does not exceed 20%, after the increase in workers in the services and industry, while agriculture contributes only 4.5% of GDP.
It noted that the high rate of population growth in the Near East and North Africa and rural-urban migration has led to a heavy growth in employment in the non-agricultural sectors, especially since the majority of the rural population in the region tend to migrate to urban areas.
The poverty rate in the rural areas of the Near East region is twice the rate in urban areas due to low wages and the deterioration of education, health, housing and other services.
The conference will discuss several issues, including adaptation to climate change in semi-arid areas, sustainable agricultural development and agricultural transformation in the Near East and North Africa region, and the challenge of employment and migration of young people and the treatment of transboundary animal, fish and plant diseases and pests.