As part of his two-day official visit to the Republic of Tunisia, Mr. Yerlan Baidaulet, the Director General of the IOFS, met with Mr. Mohamed Fadhel Kraem, the Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Marine Fisheries of Tunisia, who simultaneously heads the Ministry of Communication Technologies and Digital Transformation on July 27, 2021. Mr. Baidaulet thanked H.E. Mr. Kraem for the invitation and the Tunisian government for its recent membership in the Organization (14 March this year), which was of great significance in bringing together the OIC countries in the matters of food security and development of sustainable agriculture. H.E. Yerlan Baidaulet called for close bilateral cooperation within the framework of the Organization's mandate and Strategy 2031. The IOFS looks forward to the active participation of Tunisian experts in the development and implementation of the IOFS programs. The work of the IOFS is closely linked to the needs of the participating countries and the Director General noted that all the programs of the Organization are flexible and, depending on the wishes and recommendations of the participating countries, can be complemented by new areas, such as olives, seafood and dates - as the most important of the strategic products of a given North African country. For his part, the Minister noted the great prospects of the forthcoming collaboration, in particular the relevance of the implementation of IT technologies and digitalization in agriculture in Tunisia, as well as at the more global level of the OIC. The Tunisian agriculture is developing on all fronts, and the country has a great opportunity to expand its markets by establishing direct relations with potential importers and exporters, especially from the OIC countries, but also from international partners of the IOFS, such as the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) countries. In order to strengthen further partnerships, the Minister invited the Director General to the SIAMAP 2021 (International Show of Agriculture, Agricultural Machinery & Fishing) to be held in October this year. During the bilateral meeting, the parties expressed their intention to conclude a Memorandum of Cooperation with a concrete Action Plan for the coming years.
After the bilateral meeting, the Ministry organized a meeting with the heads of leading national organizations specializing in agricultural development, grain, water management, plant quarantine and veterinary, research and the national genetic resources bank to discuss the prospects for cooperation, implementation mechanisms and financing of food security programs. The Tunisian side was particularly interested in programs on Investments, Database, private sector development, creation of the Grain Fund and Food Reserves. Active interest of the Tunisian side was confirmed by a number of constructive proposals for cooperation.
In addition, the Director General met with Mr. Ezzar Abdelmajid, the President of the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP). First founded in 1920, the UTAP became active in 1950. For 71 years, the Union has represented the interests of farmers and fishermen. Today it includes regional federations, national universities, a Central Council and an Executive Office. The Union has more than 500.000 farmers; 1.200 engineering scientists provide mentoring, training, and support to Union members. The UTAP works closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries and with the country's Ministry of Trade and Export Development under the slogan "Agriculture is the solution to strengthen the country's sovereignty and develop the economy".
The UTAP is a member of many international agricultural organizations: the member of the World Farmers Organization, founding member of the Union of Maghreb and North African Farmers (UMNAGRI) which includes Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania, Morocco and Algeria along with Tunisia. The UTAP is also a founding member of the African Farmers Organization, which includes regional agricultural organizations in Africa, namely the Maghreb and North African Farmers Union, the East African Farmers Union, the West African Farmers Organization, the Southern African Union of Agricultural Organizations and the Central African Farmers Union. The Union is member of the General Union of Arab Farmers and Agricultural Cooperatives (Yemen, Lebanon, Somalia, Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Syria) and is also founder of the UAFA (African Union of Women in Agriculture). The collaboration between the UTAP and IFPA (Islamic Food Processing Association) will provide a mutually beneficial platform for the private sector, especially small agricultural producers and processors.