9 December 2009, Ismailia Governorate - Farmers working in a strawberry field. FAO Project GTFS/REM/070/ITA - Regional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programme in the Middle Eastern Countries. The project will work in six countries of the Near East Region that share specific priorities on Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The project will address a range of priorities of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) in particular: Reduced environmental degradation; Use of community participatory processes; Regional, national and local ownership; Attention to policy and funding constraints; and Cost-effective crop production. The project will strengthen the capability of Government agencies, NGOs and farming communities of the six countries to plan, organize and implement programs at local level, which will support community-based IPM. The IPM strategies aim to reduce pesticide use. This will contribute to the protection of farming communities, their environment and consumers, and to expansion of local and export markets for high value crops in line with the EU standards and rules for international trade. The project will provide technical assistance, facilitate exchanges of expertise and implement pilot activities in the field. For its implementation, the project will form and build on partnerships among communities (their members and organizations), relevant NGOs, Government units/departments, research and university institutions and, other (FAO) projects. These partnerships will merge in a forum for discussion at national and regional level.