The two organizations first started their collaboration in 1977. The new accord, signed yesterday, includes a plan for research programmes, workshops and exchanges for scientists and students in 2009 and 2010.
The aim is to promote local, mountain and quality agricultural and food products that hail from the Mediterranean region. According to the FAO, traditional foods often contribute to the sustainability of mountainous and less-favoured areas.
The Mediterranean diet has become renowned the world over for its health properties, since a diet rich in fish and vegetables has been observed as aiding longevity and warding off some serious lifestyle ills. Indeed, there have even been calls for the Mediterranean diet itself to receive protected status.
Pests, fires and water
The Mediterranean-wide free trade area is expected to become operational in 2010; the Mediterranean Union was initiated in July 20087 by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, uniting EU member states with a number of non-EU states bordering the Mediterranean.
But there are concerns that fruits and crops in the region could become exposed to new pests.
Research and training activities will look to improve fruit crops and the control pests coming into the region or spreading through it, by harmonizing protocols of pest monitoring and of the certification of propagation material of fruit crops.
Research will also be conducted on sustainable management of forests in the Mediterranean – and in particular prevention of forest fires, reforestation and biodiversity.
The collaboration aims to aid modern irrigation management techniques with new tools to help professionals in this field.