The Fourth General Assembly of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) was held from 8th to 9th of September 2021 under the theme “Food Systems of the OIC in a Post-Pandemic World”.
At the ministerial session, Minister of Agriculture H.E. Yerbol Karashukeev spoke on behalf of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev: “Only by joining forces can we make a meaningful contribution to achieving one of the most important Sustainable Development Goals - zero hunger, ensuring food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agricultural development. I believe that the IOFS will play a key role in this noble mission.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey H. E. Bekir Pakdemirli observed that with the ongoing pandemic, the issue of strengthening food systems continues to stay relevant on the global agenda in many countries.
H.E. Dr. Ahmad Kavesa Sengendo, the OIC Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs delivered the welcoming speech of the OIC Secretary General H.E. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, who expressed hope that the session will “enable us to review our priorities at the national and regional levels towards achieving sustainable agricultural development and enhanced food security in our countries.”
According to the agenda, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey, Mr. Bekir Pakdemirli, transferred the chairmanship to the Republic of Kazakhstan for a period of one year.
The newly elected Chairman, Minister of Agriculture H.E. Yerbol Karashukeev stated that Kazakhstan would continue to follow the set path and focus on the most important tasks, such as ensuring a high-quality level of implementation of the approved programs, the development of the OIC food systems, climate change, water management in agriculture and humanitarian aid.
In line with the agenda, new members of the Bureau were elected: Pakistan and Egypt as Vice-Chairmen, and Guinea-Bissau as a Rapporteur.
The high-level participants of the General Assembly expressed appreciation for the high level of the implementation of the IOFS programs for 2020-2021. During this period, the organization held a number of fruitful events, which covered issues as diverse as food security governance, agricultural investments, establishment of food reserves in the OIC space and others. In the period of April-September alone, the IOFS conducted 26 regional, national, and international events, seminars and trainings within the strategic programs. Moreover, the organization provided an international platform for scientists from the OIC countries, giving them the opportunity to exchange academic experience and technical skills, and intensify cooperation in the development of gene banks and strategic commodities through a network of Centers of Excellence.
An important performance indicator is the accession of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Tunisia to the IOFS in 2021. Moreover, the State of Libya ratified the IOFS Statute in February 2021. Cameroon and Tajikistan have reported to be in the process of finalizing the ratification processes. Finally yet importantly, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Lebanese Republic announced their intention to the join the IOFS in near future.
In conclusion, the Director-General of IOFS, H. E. Yerlan A. Baidaulet emphasized, “The sustainable food security is an outcome of resilient food system. In this regard, we have no other choice, but only to braid our minds, our efforts and our actions to enable national, regional and global food system framework.”
After the welcoming speeches, the following member states took part in the country debates and expressed their support for the IOFS work: Minister of Food of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Mr Shadhan Chandra Majumder, Minister of State for Food and Water Security of UAE Mrs Mariam Mohammed Almheiri, Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia Eng. Mansour bin Hilal Almushaiti, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research of Pakistan Mr. Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation of Somalia Mr. Said Hussein Iid, and Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Tajikistan Mrs. Naigina Anvari. The Chairman of the Assembly availed of this opportunity to congratulate the government and the people of Tajikistan with the anniversary of their Independence Day. The following speeches were made by Minister of Culture and Agriculture of Lebanon Mr. Abbas Mortada, Head of ARC at the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation of Egypt Dr. Mohamed Soliman, G.S Assistant for Projects & Rural Development at the Ministry of Agriculture of Jordan Dr. Ayman al-Salti.
The discussions were concluded with the statements from the representatives of SESRIC, ICESCO, ICARDA, ITFC, and the Arab League. Thereafter, the IOFS signed a Memoranda of Understanding with ICARDA and ICDT.
Following the ministerial session, the participants adopted the Resolutions of the Fourth General Assembly and the Strategic Vision of the IOFS 2031.
The event was attended by 148 participants from 36 IOFS countries and 56 OIC countries, including ministers of agriculture, representatives of international organizations, OIC and its institutions, as well as other high-ranking officials in charge of food security in the participating countries. A few observer countries of OIC, including Russia took part in the event as well.
For reference: the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT) is a subsidiary organ of the OIC, entrusted with the mission of promoting trade and investment among the member states, headquartered in Casablanca, Morocco.
The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) is an international organization that undertakes research-for-development to provide innovative, science-based solutions for communities across the non-tropical dry areas.