The Sixth Executive Board Meeting of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS)

The Sixth Executive Board Meeting of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS)
28 October 2020
The Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) convened the Sixth Executive Board Meeting on October 28, 2020, through videoconference. The meeting is a preparatory event before the Third General Assembly, to be held on December 2-3, 2020 in Ankara, Turkey. The Executive Board members discussed various topical issues of the Third General Assembly Agenda.

The Executive Board reviewed the OIC Plan of Action for the Development of Strategic Commodities, which outlines major goals and areas of cooperation within OIC. The Plan implies collective action for the development of productive capacities of member states with respect to such strategic commodities as wheat, rice and cassava. The issue of the establishment of Centres of Excellence, which will be instrumental in the implementation of capacity building programmes in line with the abovementioned approved Plan, was examined too.

Furthermore, the Executive Board reviewed the concept note on the Development of Palm Oil through the application of the same mechanisms used for other strategic commodities.

The establishment of the OIC Food Security Reserves is considered one of the most important statutory objectives. The Secretariat will bring forward the Draft Protocol on the establishment of food reserves at the General Assembly after further refinement and meeting of international experts in November 2020. The aim of the programme is the creation of sub-regional food reserves tailored to the needs of each regional member group.

The Development of National Gene Banks in the Member States of OIC seeks to promote regional cooperation in using and sharing genetic resources of plants and animals for organic food production and agriculture. One cannot overestimate the link between country and farmer access to the new pest and drought-resistant varieties of agricultural crops and sustainable models of food security. Accordingly, the General Assembly will overview the outcome documents of the Workshop for Development of National Gene Banks, organized by the UAE through videoconference on July 5-7, 2020.

The Second General Assembly of IOFS approved the need to elaborate on the development mechanisms of the food industry with the participation of the private sector of IOFS countries, namely, through the international Islamic Food Processing Association (IFPA). The IOFS Secretariat is conducting all the necessary work in conjunction with international consultants for comprehensive and quality substantiation of IFPA. The model of IFPA management is to be reconsidered at the General Assembly, pursuant to the Resolution № IOFS / GA / 1-14-2019, adopted at the Second General Assembly.

The IOFS Secretariat is initiating the international Food Security Governance program, which provides a coherent mechanism for improving national food security governance in the OIC Member States; the General Assembly is invited to approve the launch of the program. The National Food Security Governance is one of the foundations of food hunger mitigation and is critical for the achievement of Zero Hunger and Sustainable Development Goals in the OIC region. This is a multi-sectoral and comprehensive field of public administration, which requires an integrated approach from government bodies.

The Secretariat prepared the concept note and implementation plan for the ‘Water Management in Agriculture’ program. Given the prevalence of arid and semi-arid climates in the OIC Member States, the conservation and efficient management of water resources in agriculture is critical for food security and rural and agricultural development. Accordingly, cooperation in the field of effective management of water resources and the introduction of modern irrigation systems would attract priority attention of the OIC member countries.

The General Assembly is invited to approve the start of the Transboundary Pest Control Management program and its implementation during 2021. Recent incidents of mass locust invasions in various OIC member states have shown the vulnerability of the agricultural sector in this problem. This question suggests that the international community, including intergovernmental organizations, take charge of pest management at the transboundary level. The migration of pests abroad damages the entire agricultural sector and sharply weakens the state of food security. 

Among the discussed issues were agro-food trade and investment promotion, the Development of the National Food Sector in Cooperation with State Investment Agencies. Investments are the most important element of modern economic relations in the food industry, which allow building food systems and food industry infrastructure, and structuring food-value chains and relevant supplies. IOFS is initiating a program that will mainly focus on the development of the food sector in collaboration with investment agencies. Many OIC member states have special government agencies involved in attracting direct foreign investments, protecting investors and their interests, and mediating between governments and investors. The Third General Assembly is to approve the start of the program and its implementation during 2021.

The Secretariat reported on its efforts to promote the development of halal food products in IOFS member states for both domestic consumption and export purposes. It will ensure collaboration with relevant OIC institutions, including the private sector and agro-food industries, and adopt robust standardization, accreditation and certification regimes.

One of the statutory objectives of the IOFS, among others, is to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance. The Secretariat was suggested to coordinate with the government of Saudi Arabia regarding the concept note about this initiative. The IOFS Secretariat proposes to create an international “online platform” system integrated with the Adahi project. The program would organize “live” slaughter of sacrificial animals and distribution of meat to those in need in the OIC region. This platform will simplify and facilitate a Muslim from anywhere in the world to make a ritual sacrifice (for example, during Eid al-Adha, etc.).

According to the information from specialized UN organizations, populations in various regions, including Africa and Asia, are facing mass hunger and malnutrition due to the coronavirus pandemic. In this regard, the IOFS is initiating a humanitarian program called "Flour for Humanity", where developed OIC member countries provide donations and voluntary assistance in the form of grain flour to the needy OIC member countries.

The IOFS Secretariat will intensify its collaboration on the issue of the improvement of the Food Balance Database with global and regional statistical agencies, including SESRIC and the FAO institute. The programme follows the Action Plan OIC / GA-IOFS / 2016 / POA adopted by the Inaugural General Assembly in Astana (now Nur-Sultan), Kazakhstan, on April 26-28, 2016, and the Resolution No. IOFS / GA / 1- On 13-2019, adopted by the Second General Assembly of the IOFS in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Secretariat was invited to formulate and improve the performance of the Food Database platform. The IOFS database platform is being created to aggregate statistical data from member states on regional and national food security issues and to utilize it for the development of mutual trade.

In general, the Executive Board members endorsed the proposed IOFS programs and instructed the Secretariat to develop a draft resolution for review by the General Assembly.