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During the past decades, the societies of the Near East (comprising the Middle East and North Africa) underwent rapid and extensive transformations of their social structures and economic systems. Within only two generations a majority of the people of the Near East shifted from rural to urban settings. This fast pace of social transformation has created new opportunities and hopes, but it has also generated major new challenges for rural farmers, villagers, pastor lists, and nomads who depend for their livelihood on agrarian economies.

      In 1981, a Near East Regional Conference was organized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which passed a resolution requesting action to establish such a regional Centre. CARDNE was launched following a 1983 FAO-sponsored meeting of representatives and observers from 18 Near Eastern states, also attended by observers from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program. The agreement to establish CARDNE came into effect in 1987 after it was ratified by six countries. The Regional Centre on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development for the Near East (CARDNE) was established to address the needs, rights and aspirations of the rural populations of the Near East


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