Ms. Akmaral ABEN,
The Head of the “Eurasia: Politics and Culture” International News Agency (INA)
In the 2021 will performing the 10th anniversary of another international initiative of Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev: On June 8, 2011, during the VII World Islamic Economic Forum in Astana, the First President of Kazakhstan (hereinafter – Elbasy) announced the need of creating an Islamic Organization for Food Security. At the 38th meeting of the СFM (Council of Foreign Ministers) of OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) (later – the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Elbasy repeated his idea, calling is appropriate the development of food mutual assistance system within the framework of the OIC and proposed to set up the headquarter of such organization in Kazakhstan.
The IOFS attracts the attention, first of all, of food-producing countries as a profitable market for food exports, and therefore for the development of their food industry as a whole and the expansion of mutual trade.
Kazakhstan is well-placed, both political and economic, to become a major international food hub in the Central Asia, as well as for the OIC countries. I believe that Kazakhstan, as well as China for ASEAN countries, stand a good chance to become the main economic partner for 56 countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is more than 1.5 billion people. Thus, the country will further strengthen its position in the OIC and the world, but for such an ambitious goal, the country needs a political solution, an accelerated transformation of the agricultural system, the solution of global issues, such as transport corridors for the supply of food to Islamic countries, issues of air cargo transportation and the creation of an international airport for them in Kazakhstan.
In order to come on stream of the OIC countries, a systematic approach is needed, and for this purpose, the role of IOFS is important for Kazakhstan, since this strategic program institution of OIC responsible for developing of systemic issues in the field of food security,
IOFS programmes include all aspects of the international and national food security.
IOFS is not a fund or financial institution. Therefore, the Organization’s affiliated entities, Grain Found and the International Islamic Food Industry Association (IFPA), which were decided to create in 2019 at the second session of the IOFS General Assembly, will deal with the issues of exporting, attracting investment, financing agriculture and yield of the markets of Islamic countries with high-quality, high value added finished products. These joint initiatives of Mr.Saparkhan Omarov, the Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan and Mr. Yerlan Baidaulet, the IOFS Director General were supported by all 57s OIC countries.
About the history of creation the Organization:
Kazakhstan, having assumed the presidency of the OIC (OIC) in 2011, proposed the modernization and reforms for the development of the Islamic world in the XXIst century. A specialized institution under OIC was established with the mission to ensure sustainable food security by means of socio-economic development and systematic promotion of programs related to agriculture, science and technology, humanitarian assistance and mutual trade.
In 2013, the name and Charter of the Islamic Organization for Food Security were adopted, and in December of that year, during the 40th session of the СFM in Guinea, it was signed by 19 countries. Today, the IOFS already includes 34 countries from 56 OIC states, 15 have completed the procedure for ratifying the Charter. Also, on December 2-3, in Turkey, Ankara, at the Third General Assembly, Tunisia officially announced its intention to enter to the IOFS by signing the Charter in the near future, and this will be the 35th member state of the IOFS.
About the role of Kazakhstan in this globally important Organization:
The IOFS is the main structure in the OIC system and its activity today is important for Islamic countries. Food security governance is one of the most vital tasks for Governments absolutely of all over the world, and Kazakhstan is not an exception. Exactly, with the purpose of solving a wide range of issues related with the maintaining of food security in the OIC region, the First President of Kazakhstan initiated the creation of the Islamic Organization for Food Security under the OIC, with the headquartered in Kazakhstan. It is necessary to provide people with economically readily available provisions, based on the natural and climatic conditions and the geographical state of the nation, to create the most profitable transport and logistics routes that minimize the cost of food supplies, stabilize prices by forming and managing joint food reserves.
Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev’s idea was very timely, taking into consideration of such problem as the food shortages in some Islamic countries. In his address to the participants of the first IOFS General Assembly, Elbasy noted that the Muslim world should not keep out of such urgent question as liquidation of hunger, agricultural development and sustainable food security maintaining.
The initiative to create IOFS from the very beginning was supported by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture of Kazakhstan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs initially actively contributed to the functioning and development of IOFS as a specialized OIC authority headquartered in Astana, focusing its work on expanding the number of members of the Organization from among the OIC member states and assistance for their early ratification the Charter by them.
As a result of this work, 34 of the 57 OIC member states are currently members of IOFS, 15 of which have completed the procedure for ratifying the Charter of this organization. (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Kuwait, Mali, Niger, Pakistan, Palestine, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey).
Exactly Kazakhstan was the first supported the IOFS and made a voluntary contribution to 2018-2019 years, and in 2020 made a mandatory contribution. Also this year, mandatory and voluntary contributions were made by countries such as the UAE, Bangladesh and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Food security is primarily the development of the food industry, international trade:
At the second session of the IOFS General Assembly in 2019 in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah, OIC agriculture ministers discussed the main food security problems facing their states. And they agreed on the need to create a platform for promoting food security on a long-term basis by mobilizing all available resources within their countries.
Joint initiatives of Mr. Saparkhan Omarov, the Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan and Mr. Yerlan Baidaulet, the IOFS Director General on the creation of the Grain Found and the International Islamic Association of Food Industry (IFPA) were adopted and supported by 57 OIC countries.
The affiliated structures of the Grain Found and IFPA will engage in attracting the investments and financing the agriculture of the OIC countries. The main task of the IFPA is to create a convenient platform for investors, entrepreneurs, large agricultural producers, processors who could collaborate on the development of the food industry. The IFPA members will able to share information and experience on innovative technologies and scientific research.
Exactly the IFPA affiliate structure, when interacting through IOFS with the governments of countries and with the business community of OIC countries, that will work to create conditions for the growth of international trade between the OIC countries, with the aim of operating the trade corridors and creating chains for the supply of high-quality products with higher added value, will provide the access to the market with 1.5 billion people. The launch of the Islamic Association of the Food Industry is planned in 2021 as part of the AIFC.
The role of the IOFS in Kazakhstan’s food security:
The Islamic Organization for Food Security is not involved in projects, it is an institution with strategic programmes on food security for OIC countries. It began an active work exactly one year ago, the main emphasis is on targeted programs that include all aspects of the international and national food security.
The organization cooperates with ministries of agriculture, scientific centers of the OIC countries, with Islamic countries, on such programs as the development of strategic products – wheat, rice, cassava, palm oil, food security reserves and a grain fund, food humanitarian programs, development of food security and halal industry, government regulation of food security, development of national genetic resource banks, management of water resources in agriculture and others.
Each program is a separate topic, but I would like to mention briefly the program “Development of the National Bank of Genetic Resources,” since this is the main issue in the food security system of any country. It is a programme for the conservation and multiplication of genetic resources in the field of crop and animal production for the production of natural food and efficient agriculture, with the purpose of food security. The centre will be based on research centres, seed laboratories, mutual cooperation within the OIC countries, which could to share by genetic resources and intensify efforts to promote venture financing for scientific and technical developments and projects in this field. Conducting of the technical and economic assessment of the international genetic center in the process.
I would like to note that the OIC member states rightfully give Kazakhstan leadership in the field of coordination of the general policy on agricultural development, food supplies.
The next 4th meeting of the IOFS General Assembly, which symbolically coincides with the decade of the idea of Mr. Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev to create the Organization, is again planned to be held in the capital of Kazakhstan in 2021.
Opinions of the world public to the 10th anniversary of the idea of Mr. Elbasy N.A. Nazarbayev and the proposal of the President of Kazakhstan to hold the Summit on Food Security in 2021 in Kazakhstan, from an interview:
Mr. Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Dawood, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Kazakhstan:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Kazakhstan have established high-level relations. The King of Saudi Arabia, the custodian of the two holy mosques, His Majesty Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Crown Prince, His Majesty Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, supported the idea of Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2011 to create the Islamic Organization for Food Security and allocated $2 million. I believe that this initiative of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev, is very important and great.
I regard the proposal of His Excellency Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as a special initiative in ensuring food security, which is necessary now, when there is hunger, lack of resources.
The Republic of Kazakhstan is a very large and developed state, its potential in the field of agriculture is huge. During the crisis, the country has the opportunity to satisfy its needs, so I am convinced that Kazakhstan also has the opportunity to provide food for OIC countries and be the main economic partner.
In the near future, a special representative may be appointed at our embassy to interact with IOFS headquarters. Good luck in the work of the Islamic Food Security Organization. This organization has a special place in ensuring the food security of needy countries experiencing difficulties such as war, climate change, hunger. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will continue its support.
Mr. Amar Albreiki, temporary charge d’affaires of the UAE in Kazakhstan:
As you noted, the proposal of Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the creation of the Islamic Food Security Organization with its headquarters in Kazakhstan was unanimously supported by all OIC member states, including the United Arab Emirates. There is no doubt that this organization has a great importance because it makes an invaluable contribution to the overall efforts to ensure food security in all Islamic countries.
The summit on food security proposed by Mr. Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, His Excellency President of under the auspices of the United Nations in 2021 is of particular significance. We believe that the Summit will contribute to strengthening cooperation, finding effective solutions and initiatives to improve the food security, as well as new ways to make significant progress towards achieving one of the main goals of eradicating hunger throughout the world. Kazakhstan has extensive territory and experience in the field of agriculture, especially in the cultivation of wheat and other important crops, not to mention the geographical position of Kazakhstan, since it is located in the heart of Eurasia. Moreover, the leadership and Government of Kazakhstan attache great importance to food security and have great potential to become a food hub.
The United Arab Emirates is interested in working closely with the Islamic Organization for Food Security, and the Embassy is making efforts to further expand cooperation with the organization.
Mr. Majid Samadzade Saber, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
An important and strategic start became the proposal of Mr. Nazarbayev to create the Islamic Organization for Food Security, its work can be expanded and implemented throughout the world. Iran immediately supported this proposal and signed the relevant agreement. The Iranian state has always stressed the importance of this organization. In modern conditions, taking into account the climate change, water scarcity and the increase in population of the world, the significance of this initiative of Mr. Nazarbayev is becoming more and more obvious, especially for Islamic countries. The crisis caused by coronavirus, which led to limitation on transportation and production, imports and exports, showed that this initiative is important and effective.
The initiative of the President of Kazakhstan, Mr. K.K. Tokayev is important for all countries of the world, including Iran. Regardless of the political, racial, ethnic, ideological, religious views, there must ensure the food security and provision for humans on earth.
Kazakhstan is a large and long-term country, has many prime quality lands. Today, the countries of the world are interconnected, they can achieve their goals through integration, interrelation and requirements. And Kazakhstan can become the world food hub for OIC states.
Mr. Aziz Omar, the Charge d’Affaires of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the Republic of Kazakhstan:
Availability, processing, stability and nutrition are the elements of food security. I would like to say that Afghanistan, the community-based country, has the potential to make the significant progress in the sustainable development agenda until 2030. Afghanistan, as an active member of the OIC, from the very beginning supported the idea of creating the Islamic Organization for Food Security under the OIC, when it was initiated by the First President of Kazakhstan, His Excellency Mr. Nazarbayev in 2011. We are one of the countries that got support from this organization, received this year a great quantity of the food and equipment against the COVID-19, as well as the sum of money to support people who lost their fields as a result of the floods. Some part of Afghanistan was flooded, so these donations were very well-timed and extremely effective for the Afghan people.
Kazakhstan is one of the largest countries among the members of the OIC, which has the potential for production and food provisions, and also has strategic reserves to resolve the food security issues. It is one of the main exporters of provision in the region. Exactly, this country produces a lot of wheat and flour, is exported in this region, especially, to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Currently, the market obtains more imports from Kazakhstan with very good quality of wheat and flour, which are the strategic food product for Afghanistan. During the pandemic, we could able to maintain our imports from Kazakhstan, in this matter the Kazakhstani government and business community, as well as the Islamic Organization for Food Security were very active.
The thing is, Kazakhstan is located between Europe and Asia, in particular between China and Russia, and on the other hand with the countries of Central Asia, including Afghanistan. Therefore, there’s a lot of potential for food production. Kazakhstan has the potential to be an international food hub in the region and in the world.
Afghanistan is a country where we grow the different fruits, various food products and dried fruits, so our policy is to develop a bilateral policy and export from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan. We have already launched to work actively on this issue before the pandemic. Charter flights got underway scheduled flights with all these dried fruits and fruits to Almaty, but due to the pandemic this was suspended for some time. We hope that after this crisis we will continue our exports to Kazakhstan. Our customs system has also improved, we have 96 positions of the Afghani duty-free exports to Kazakhstan. Agriculture item is included in Afghanistan’s priority programmes. So, this is a very important issue in Afghani politics, and, in view of this, every year we hold an exhibition for our Ministry of Agriculture under the authority of the President of Afghanistan.
For our country, the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan, Mr. K.K. Tokayev, is a very important Summit for us. We support this idea, and we want to participate at the highest level of delegation. We undertake the obligation to do all possible for cooperation in this regard with this event with Kazakhstan.
You know that Afghanistan is one of the countries that receive assistance from the IOFS. We obtained more than 50 waggon-loads of provisions, such as wheat flour, as well as equipment against the Covid-19, and we also got the financial aid to support people in Afghanistan. Everything that has been done by the Islamic Organization is very important and highly appreciated by our government and people. We looking forward to seeing the opportunities to cooperate with the IOFS in terms of policy development and being active in this organization.
Mr. Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad Qazi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan:
We very much appreciate the timely proposal, as well as the all other important proposals of El Basy, the First President, His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev. He has given the great initiatives both in the Islamic world and globally.
As you know, Pakistan is also one of the agrarian countries. We are the country of 220 million people, and we are also the agrarian country. We have the largest river canal system in the whole world, the fifth most populous country in the world.
I think the IOFS has a huge role to play in the fight against hungering, poverty and regarding the provisions of food security, it is a very important specialized agency of the OIC. I am glad that Pakistan is one of the very few countries that have accepted its status, we have ratified the IOFS status and we are ready to support, to do our best to improve and eliminate the food security problems in the Islamic countries.
The idea of President Tokayev to hold the summit on food security is very timely, very necessary, especially considering the fact that we are facing the need for food supply in different parts of the world during this pandemic, the global crisis of COVID-19. And Pakistan is suffering from shortage of some food products, despite the fact that it also an agricultural country too. So I think the time has come for Islamic countries to use their resources together and this Summit could play an important role.
I am myself rave about with Kazakhstan, its vast expanses, steppes, natural resources, pasture fields and the production of corn farming. In your beautiful country, 24 million hectares of farm lands that is the property of your country, and you have already proved this by being a regional food producer, producer and exporter of grain. Recently, you donated the flour and grain during the COVID crisis to some neighbouring countries.
Your country has great potential, undiscovered resources. I read that Halal beef began to be supplied to the UAE markets, you sell your beef, horse meat, etc., food products to Russia, to Japan. And I was really struck by the main support that Kazakhstan provides. Kazakhstan has everything necessary to make a valuable contribution to the deficit of the OIC countries, I am sure of this. The Islamic Food Security Organization headquarters will deal with this issue.
IOFS has a great future, it still has some way to go, certain way to be fully functional, to mature before the effective mandate that was given to it. I am sure that this organization has a great potential, I think we will continue to do all possible for cooperation.
Mr. Dato’Saeed Bakri, Ambassador of the Republic of Malaysia:
We highly appreciate the initiative proposed in 2011 by Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, the First President of Kazakhstan, El Basy on the creation of such an important structure for Islamic countries under the OIC-Islamic Organization for Food Security. And the Malaysian Government considered that this is a very important initiative on concerning assurance of the food security for all Islamic countries.
Kazakhstan really has great potential to become the food hub for the OIC, can become the main exporter of food, because the country has a very huge land area, and if you fully use your land and the latest agricultural technologies, you can really become a source of food for many countries of the world.
Malaysia is an observer in this organization and is not yet a member of the IOFS. Even if we are not the member of the IOFS, but as the member of the OIC, nothing prevents us from contributing. I know that many agencies in Malaysia, such as MARDI (Malaysian Agricultural Research Institute), participated in the IOFS activities, our halal agencies “JAKIM” and Halal development corporation are actively working in the IOFS, within the framework of the IOFS program under the IFPA (Islamic Food Industry Association) name.
Mr. Rahmat Pramono, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia:
Undoubtedly, Indonesia fully supported the initiative to create the IOFS under OIC, since we all know that food security and the food industry as a whole is very important for the common humanity. Therefore, this is the national agenda of each country, including the OIC member countries. For this reason, the proposal of Mr. Nazarbayev, the President to create the IOFS in 2011 is certainly very important and very timely, because the provision is the key question for all of us.
Kazakhstan can become the center of food security within the framework of OIC. Firstly, I see the fact that, regardless of Kazakhstan is a big country, only about 70% of your land is used for agriculture and animal production, you are the main producer and exporter of grain in the world, this is a very important fact.
The Summit is also very important for food security. Especially during the COVID-19 epidemic, when many people lose their jobs, lose the livelyhood. I consider that, currently, it is very timely, that in 2021 we will be able to organize a meeting on food security. As we all understood, food security is associated with another challenges, such as water, energy, income and work, culture, and so on. Therefore, the Food Security Summit can solve many of these issues together so that in the future we have enough food. There are some white spaces in the food system to fill the food needs of the world, and we must to solve this problem as soon as possible, especially at this meantime of pandemic.
We are permanently having been in contact with Jakarta regarding of Indonesia’s entrance to the IOFS, this important agenda for us. Our Ministry of Agriculture in Jakarta is actively discussing this with other ministries. As you know, the membership of an international organization is a process that we need to discuss with the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Foreign Affairs and other relevant departments. We have already had meetings on this particular issue, and we are in the process of the great importance of discussing this issue.
Mr. Yerlan Baidaulet, the Director General of the Islamic Food Security Organization:
As we all know, the 2020 was an unprecedented and troubled period that affected on all parts of the world, especially the OIC region. The Global food systems have been tested by both ecologic and biological factors that reflect the urgent need for a more sustainable, strong and powerful food system that can be responsible at the national, regional and international levels. The first and immediate global reaction to the COVID-19 was the acceptance of all measures for correct blocking and border closure in protecting of all countries from the extension of the pandemic. Such actions affect to the food flows, disturb the food chain and leave alone farmers facing the problems unsupported. The world situation will become even more dangerous, and by the end of this year, about 265 million people may prove to be on the edge of starvation.
Mr. Abdulrahman Alfadli, the Minister of Environmental and Water resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
The all of us eyes wide open that the OIC region has the high agricultural potential, but nevertheless 350 million people live below the poverty line, suffer from hunger and food shortages. It is important for us, by combined efforts, to solve the social issues of the OIC region, as well as this is interlinked with the food security issues.
Mr. Tarig Ali Bakhit, the Ambassador, the OIC Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian, Cultural and Social Affairs, spoke about the lack of the systematic approach of the food security in the OIC countries, and the important role of the IOFS in creating of this system.
Mr. Bekir Pakdemirli, the Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry noted that agriculture and food security are today the front and center in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Islamic countries should stand by one another.
Mr. Sadhan Chandra Majumder, the Minister of Food of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, noting that he full-time supported the activities of the IOFS and looking forward for establishing the close and mutual cooperation.
Mr. Reduvan Mohamed Ali, the Minister-Commissioner for Food Security of the Republic of Mali, called upon the participants to support, assist in the financing and implementation of the IOFS-Food Security Database, Humanitarian Programs, the OIC Food Security Reserves and the other IOFS programs.
Mr. Dr. Saad Moussa, Representative of the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture saidthat the organization has a good vision of reality, and it is very important for his country to expand trade cooperation in the field of agriculture.
Ms. Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mheiri, the UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security, highlighted the important role of the IOFS in food security and noted that many OIC countries are depend on the food imports and any crisis influences over the economies of countries and import and export issues.
The Representatives of the ISESCO supported the proposal to create a centralized national bank of genetic resources of the Islamic countries.
The ICARDA Representative proposed expanding the Transboundary Biological Pest Control Authority program.
Mr. Magid Yahia, the Director of the UNWFP Office in the UAE and Representative in the GCC Region, offered cooperation with the IOFS on the issue of providing countries with food, noting the overall goals and vision of the organization in this matter.
Mr. Ghazi Grioui, Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia in Riyadh, officially announced Tunisia’s intention to accede to the IOFS by signing the Charter in the near future. This will be the 35th member state of the IOFS.
The IOFS Ministerial Session of the Third General Assembly were attended by over 170 participants from the OIC countries in two days, among them the ministers of agriculture, the OIC and its institutions, the heads and representatives of international organizations such as: AOAD, SESRIC, ITFC, SMIIC, FAO, ICBA, BADEA, IFAD, AAAID, COMCEC, ICCIA, ICIEC, ICD, ISESCO, CILSS, IDB.