The Astana Times: Islamic Organization for Food Security Outlines Halal Plan For Ensuring Nutritionary Needs of Muslim World Are Met

The Astana Times: Islamic Organization for Food Security Outlines Halal Plan For Ensuring Nutritionary Needs of Muslim World Are Met
25 November 2020

The Islamic Organization for Food Security is a specialized institution affiliated with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, founded in 2013. The first meeting of the General Assembly was held in 2016, the organization is a reflection of the wise vision of His Excellency Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev who recognized the importance of food security for all countries of the Islamic world, beside the reflection of security Food on social, economic, political aspects, and ensuring sustainable food security in Member States.

Hence, the main objectives of the organization were set, which included, providing expertise and technical knowledge to member states in various aspects of sustainable agriculture, rural development, food security and biotechnology, assessing and monitoring the state of food security in Member States to be able to identify emergencies, provide social safety and humanitarian aid through Food security reserves. Coordination, formulation and implementation of common agricultural policies such as exchange and transfer of appropriate technology and public food management systems, treatment problems such as desertification, deforestation, erosion and salinity, mobilization and management of financial and agricultural resources to enhance food security.

Guided by its main mission, the IOFS General Secretariat has coordinated with the OIC General Secretariat, Member States, besides international and sister institutions, to develop a set of programs and projects that ensure sustainable food security in the long term. Therefore, we have in our strategic framework 16 projects, these projects and programs were divided into five main dimensions, which cover all the objectives to be achieved.

The first dimension came as implementation of OIC Action Plan for Development the Strategic Commodities, which included four projects, for development of Wheat, Rice and Cassava, in addition to Palm Oil. The main goal of the programs is to ensure self-sufficiency of the commodities selected in a long-term plan, these projects can be implemented by increasing productivity, improving seed varieties, spreading awareness of modern agriculture, strengthening extension programs and attracting investment. In order to accomplish this critical mission, the IOFS began these programs and emphasized its roles to achieve sustainable food security and strengthening cooperation within the OIC Member States, through the establishment of centers of excellence in the sub-regions. In turn, these centers will work to conduct and coordinate training and research programs among the Member States.

In order to ensure the sustainability of regional centers of excellence, it is necessary to follow a precise operating mechanism to maintain continuous funding for projects and activities. Regional centers of excellence will be a food basket, and the source for providing agricultural support using advanced technologies. It is also proposed to start from experimental regional centers of excellence, which will be subject to analysis and evaluation, based on the set plan. The operations of the regional centers of excellence will be gradually established. These issues may be subject to a feasibility study based on prepared terms of reference that ensure the success of the projects.

Moving to the second dimension, which guided through the OIC plan for establishing food security reserves in the Member States, therefore arose the need for two main programs, the Grain Fund and the OIC Food Security Reserve. Accordingly, the IOFS Secretariat developed and structured the Grain Fund structure. The main goals of this program to increase the volume of agricultural production develop the unified food market in Member States; reduce dependence on global agricultural food markets and exposure to global price fluctuations, by strengthening the inter-capacity of the OIC, as financing will be based on forward Islamic transactions in the OIC member states. The income from this activity will be directed to the formation of an Islamic insurance fund for the Member States, and its surplus will be allocated to humanitarian aid. The concept scheme for the grain fund was developed taking into account the benefits and profits for all countries regardless of the level of economic situation.

In line with the vision of the Grain Fund comes the idea of ​​establishing food security reserves, to facilitate access to food in the OIC Member States, by coordinating the national food stock policies and national food reserve. To ensure that the population is supplied with food during the period of food shortages, as well as to monitor the food security situation in the Member States. The role of the food security reserves is building a food stock on a sub-regional basis, taking into account the special food needs of each regional group within the OIC Member States. Therefore, the food security reserves will be used to cover the food shortage in emergencies.

Technology, science, and innovation cannot be separated from developing agriculture and thus increasing food security, here came the contribution of IOFS in the OIC agenda, in the field of science, technology and innovation (STI) for the year 2026, through four projects. Development of National Gene Banks, Transboundary Pest Control ManagementFood Safety and Halal Food Development, and Water Management in Agriculture.

Starting with the project to develop national gene banks, it must be emphasized that agricultural biodiversity is of great importance in preserving human life and livelihoods, especially among developing countries that suffer from increased food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition, and because no country can maintain agricultural development. Advanced and competitive relying on native plants alone.

The importance of ​​genebanks idea is to contribute in pooling resources in the field of conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture among OIC Member States, this project aims to enhance the access of the OIC member states to plant and animal gene banks among themselves and improve food crops. Moreover, to enhance cooperation in the field of genebank development and research at the regional and international levels, within OIC Member States.

Moving to Transboundary Pest Control Management, we are talking about threats whose effects on agriculture are greater than epidemics and other problems. The impact of transboundary pests extends to more than 60 countries worldwide, and significantly threatens food security at the level of OIC Member States; the IOFS aspire to increase the capacity of Member States to control locusts. In addition, contribute to strengthening national policies and regulations for locust prediction, control and management.

Since technology and science are closely related to food safety and development, and halal food has become one of the standards and features of healthy food. The IOFS program for food safety and halal food development came under the slogan “from genes to fork”, meaning that the halal food chain does not concern only a specific part of the food access chain. Nevertheless, starting from genes and the importance of their safety and benefit to human health, to reach the reduction of food waste and waste. The program aims to work closely with food manufacturers to prevent or reduce food risks and provide expertise on food chain production, organization and storage of food using non-genetically modified methods, in addition to Adopting food safety and quality standards, promoting halal food standards, and developing halal product export.

Modern water management methods have proven their importance in increasing and improving agricultural production in addition to reducing water losses and using it to improve and increase the quantities of drinking water, which is greatly reflected in people’s lives. The IOFS aspires through this project to enhance awareness and cooperation among the OIC Member States, exchanging the best experiences in the field of water management for food and agricultural development, taking collective and integrated measures to address chronic water pressures and the scarcity of innovative irrigation techniques.

Moving to the fourth dimension, the IOFS realize that achieving integrated food security in the OIC Member States is done by efforts in partnership with the private sector, hence the private sector dimension to promote agricultural food trade and investment, as this dimension includes four projects as well. They are International Islamic Food Processing Association, Food Security GovernanceNational Food Sectors Development in cooperation with state investment agencies, and IOFS Food Balance Database.

The idea of ​​ International Islamic Food Processing Association began in 2011 during the Forum for the Development of Agri-Food Industries in OIC Member States, the need for the association emerged to promote investment within the OIC Member States in the agro-food processing sector, as well as to establish a fund dedicated to agro-industrial development. In steady steps to establish the IFPA as a platform for trade exchange among the Member States.

In line with the idea of ​​promoting trade among the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the organization is interested in developing food sectors in cooperation with national investment agencies, as the main focus will be on supporting investment in national food sectors and establishing food supply chains. The main projects in this regard will be in the field of high value-added food processing and related logistics and transportation. The Islamic Organization for Food Security will start with experimental steps and then delegate this program to the World Islamic Federation for Food Processing due to the special nature of foreign direct investment.

Not far from the partnership between the public and the private sectors, we find the importance of food security governance, in increasing the effectiveness of food security and nutrition goals: (1) food availability, (2) access to food, (3) food utilization, (4) food security and nutrition stability. This process takes place with the participation of all institutions and companies in the countries, by facilitating agribusiness, reducing food loss and waste, ensuring the sustainability of food safety and improving food intake, enhancing sustainable local food supplies supported by technology across the value chain, and enhancing the ability to respond to risks and crises.

In integration with the aforementioned programs and projects, an accurate database must be in place that contributes to supporting trade between OIC Member States. Accordingly, the organization has established and the database of food balance in the Islamic Organization for Food Security, as the database allows the analysis of trade flows between IOFS member states. As well as trade relations with other countries in the world, food balance data includes information on production maps and data on water resources in addition to information on all agricultural commodities and products.

In the fifth dimension, to embody the spirit of goodwill and assistance among the countries of Islamic world, it was necessary to launch the dimension of humanitarian food programs, in this dimension the focus was on two main projects, flour for humanity, and Qurbani Meat. In addition to working to improve livestock in the Member States.

The author is Safwan Alsaaideh, the finance manager of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS).