The Fourth General Assembly of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) was held from September 8-9, 2021 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. The event was held online under the theme «OIC Food Systems in a Post-Pandemic World». The IOFS is a specialized institute of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which currently includes 36 of the 57 OIC member countries.
H.E. Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan emphasized more than once the importance of the international Islamic Organization’s work on food security for the Islamic world. During the 14th Economic Cooperation Organization Summit, which was held online in March 2021, Mr. Tokayev urged member states to join to the OIC, calling food security issues a priority for the region.
In his address to the participants of the Fourth General Assembly of the Islamic Organization for Food Security, H.E. Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan noted the significantly increased role of the OIC in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and global climate change, urging the OIC member countries to support the initiative to create the OIC Food Security Reserves and the Grain Fund.
The «Kazakhstan is an active and responsible member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and is also one of the top 10 exporters of food wheat and flour, supplying up to 7 million tons of wheat abroad. Every year Kazakhstan provides gratuitous humanitarian aid in the form of wheat and flour to needy OIC member states. I am convinced that our experience will be useful in addressing food security issues in the constantly growing Islamic world,” - the Head of State said in an open letter to the participants in the IOFS General Assembly.
Mr. Yerlan Baidaulet, the Director General of the Islamic Food Security Organization delivered a welcome speech and expressed his gratitude to the Republic of Turkey for its leadership and support during the past year and to the Republic of Kazakhstan for its continuous support and organization of the event. In his speech, Mr. Baidaulet summarized the organization’s activities over the past year, stressing that the IOFS through its 16 strategic programs in 5 main areas seeks to enhance cooperation with all member countries as well as national, regional and international organizations.
The «sustainable food security in the OIC member countries is our goal that we strive to achieve. We, as a group of OIC countries, have all the agricultural elements, scientific research and human capacity, but we need to make a breakthrough and move towards better management of our resources and effective collaboration of all stakeholders in our food systems,» - Mr. Baidaulet said during the speech.
The General Assembly participants highly appreciated the level of implementation of the IOFS programs for 2020-2021. During this period and in the context of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the organization held a number of fruitful events (regional, national, international, seminars and trainings) (26 of them in April-September alone, which no other international organization in the world has achieved), which touched upon such diverse topics as food security management, increasing investment in the agricultural sector, and building food reserves in the OIC space. Moreover, the organization provided an international platform for scientists from the OIC countries, including Kazakhstan, enabling them to exchange with the scientific experiences and enhance cooperation in improving rice and wheat production through a network of centers of excellence, as well as the development of genetic resource banks and water management.
The accession of the new countries the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Tunisia in early 2021 is also an important indicator of the organization’s work. Moreover, the Libya ratified the IOFS Charter this year. The cooperation with member countries and close partnership at regional and global levels are key elements in the work of the organization, so in 2021, the IOFS signed 11 (!) not just memorandums of understanding, but linked to specific action plans with several countries like the UAE and Niger, and international organizations like the Eurasian Economic Commission, ICBA, ICIEC, ICARDA and others.
On the second day of the ministerial session, Mr. Bekir Pakdemirli, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey handed over the presidency to the Republic of Kazakhstan for a one-year term. The Pakistan and Egypt were elected the vice-chairs.
Mr. Yerbol Karashukeyev, the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan made a welcoming speech and confirmed the readiness of Kazakhstan to continue to follow the set course during the upcoming chairmanship, emphasizing the importance of such aspects as development of the OIC food system, ensuring the quality level of implementation of approved programs, humanitarian programs of the IOFS, risks associated with climate change, issues of effective use of water resources in agriculture.
As a result of the fourth General Assembly, resolutions and 10-year Development Strategy until 2031 were approved, according to which it is planned to further develop and strengthen the 5 main directions: the management, response to food crisis, capacity building, industry development and resource mobilization through implementation of 16 programs. Among the goals for the next 10 years are the creation of food security reserves and humanitarian food aid programs to support OIC countries in crisis situations, increasing the competitiveness of the agri-food industry, promoting financial cooperation to support special projects and investments, transferring technical experience to develop the potential of participating countries, which includes aspects such as education in the field of food safety, development of bio- and agricultural technologies, impact on the climate, development of gene banks and the ecosystem of «halal» foods.
According to Mr. Yerlan Baidaulet, the Director General of the IOFS, the Strategy is based on the assessment of global and OIC member country-specific long-term socio- economic trends and macro-trends for food security that will shape and influence food security globally and for OIC member countries. He also noted that the Strategic Vision, among other things, is based on the food security profile of OIC member countries.
«The comprehensive IOFS Vision 2031 with key pillars and mapped programs, desired impact serves as a clear strategic roadmap for your institution, which is the IOFS,» - he concluded in his address to the ministerial session of the Assembly.
It should also be reported that OIC countries such as Jordan and Lebanon have expressed interest in joining the IOFS. During the signing ceremony, working memorandums of cooperation were signed with international organizations such as the ICESCO and ICARDA.
More than 150 participants attended the event from 36 IOFS countries and 56 OIC countries and a number of observer countries, including ministers of agriculture, representatives of international organizations, the OIC and its institutions, as well as other high-ranking officials in charge of food security in the participating countries.
Reference: The Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) is a specialized institute of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has an independent international legal personality in the status of a full-fledged international organization headquartered in Nur- Sultan. The IOFS was created in accordance with the initiative of Elbasy, His Excellency Mr. Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, announced in June 2011. In accordance with the Resolution of the 2nd General Assembly (August 2019, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Mr. Yerlan A. Baidaulet, a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan was unanimously approved as the Director General of the IOFS Secretariat.
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