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RFPA supported the key SPIEF-2024 Panel Session on Global Food Security

07.06.2024 | News

The key Panel Session of SPIEF-2024 “The Role of BRICS States in Ensuring Global Food Security” was held with the support of the Russian Fertilizers Producers Association (RFPA).

The event was also attended by General Director of the Russian Export Center (REC) Veronika Nikishina, First Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Vasily Osmakov, Minister of Planning and Economic Development of Egypt Hala Helmy El-Said, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Sudan Gabriel Ibrahim Muhammad, Ambassador of Brazil to Russia Rodrigo de Lima Baena Soares, Head of the Tambov Region Maxim Egorov, First Deputy Director General of Innopraktika Natalya Popova, Member of the Management Board of VTB Bank Vitaly Sergeichuk, Managing Director of the New Land Grain Corridor Group of Companies Karen Hovsepyan, and Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) Office for Relations with the Russian Federation Oleg Kobyakov.

The moderator of the discussion Irina Abramova, Director of the Institute of African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, pointed out the urgency of the issue of ensuring global food security in the modern world. According to the UN, 2 billion people were malnourished in the world in 2023. Of these, 282 million were in a state of hunger and almost all of them live in the countries of the Global South.

“The BRICS countries – now home to 3.5 billion people – are both major consumers and producers of food. They account for 42% of global grain production and 40% of fertilizer production. Since the beginning of this year, new states – Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia – joined the BRICS. Such a composition of new participants indicates that the BRICS is focused on the countries of the Global South, which at the same time bear the brunt of the food problem,” Irina Abramova said.

Veronika Nikishina, Director General of the REC, listed Russia’s three main tasks in the field of food security: providing food for its own population, food exports, and supplying technologies that will help other countries to provide food for themselves. At the same time, exports of agricultural products is a “no alternative” for the further growth of the Russian agro-industrial complex. As high levels of self-sufficiency in products were achieved, each segment of the industry always shifted to exports, the REC head added.

“Our task, firstly, is to expand the range of those agro-industrial products that we can export. Secondly, we need to reach such production volumes that will allow us to feed not only ourselves. Russia leads the world in terms of agricultural exports growth rates. The following three factors are very important for us in achieving these goals: maintaining the investment attractiveness of the industry, preserving support measures, including exports, that exist within the framework of the National Project “International Cooperation and Exports”, as well as building joint logistics – a task that cannot be solved without the participation of the BRICS members. We invite all countries and all our partners to work on the formation of stable corridors that will allow us to deliver products to the countries that rely on them.”

First Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Vasily Osmakov said that Russia has everything necessary to ensure food sovereignty: fertilizers, plant protection products, and agricultural machinery.

 “Therefore, Russia is ready to be a guarantor of the technological foundation of food security. About 70% of fertilizers produced in our country are exported. New investment projects for fertilizer production are being launched, and fertilizer output is increasing. Companies are fully prepared to guarantee the continuity and quality of global supplies. It is also important to note the role of the bioeconomy, which is mentioned in the May 2024 Decree of President Vladimir Putin. We are ready to offer the world our solutions in this area and such solutions can also ensure food security of the BRICS and the Global South countries,” Vasily Osmakov said.

In the context of a growing world population, mineral fertilizers are a key factor in ensuring food sovereignty and global food security, emphasized RFPA President Andrey Guryev.

“The success of the national agro-industrial complex is the most spectacular example of this. Last year, Russian farmers purchased 80% more fertilizers than 5 years ago, and 2.5 times more than in 2013. At the same time, we see a steady increase in crop outcome. Last year, the agricultural export revenues for the first time ever exceeded $45 billion, and in the past five years the agricultural exports have almost doubled. All this is happening thanks to the well-thought-out government strategy for the development of the sector. And increasing fertilizer application is a key component of it. Uninterrupted supplies of Russian mineral fertilizers will be Russia’s most important contribution to the food security of friendly countries: over the past year, Russia has increased its exports of mineral fertilizers to the countries of the Global South by 25%, from 23.5 million tons in physical weight in 2022 to 29.1 million tons in 2023,” the RFPA President said.

Andrey Guryev added that about 1.2 billion people in the countries of the Global South consume the food grown with the help of Russian fertilizers. Russian products account for 22% of all fertilizers used by local farmers in different places around the world.

To provide food for Egypt’s more than 100 million people, the country’s authorities are expanding agricultural lands and promoting higher crop yields, said Egyptian Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala Helmy El-Said. Other BRICS countries are doing the same, the minister added.

“Brazil, Russia, and India are the largest agricultural producers with significant resources, diverse soil types and climates. Our countries have the ability to produce large volumes of products, and there is a vast consumer market. Technological innovations are also important, and the BRICS countries are investing in them heavily. It is necessary to continue investing in agriculture and related research… and, of course, in the development of infrastructure, warehouses and transportation systems, and irrigation,” said Hala Helmy El-Said.

Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Sudan Gabriel Ibrahim Muhammad called for similar measures. According to him, the country has huge agricultural potential and, with the help of its partners, it can become a breadbasket for Africa, the Middle East, and other regions.

“We invite partners to work in our country, bring their food production technologies, equipment, fertilizers, and seeds. We believe that the BRICS countries can produce agricultural products in Sudan and supply them to other countries. For this purpose, it is necessary to establish distribution channels, infrastructure, and financing,” the minister said.

The Ambassador of Brazil to Russia, Rodrigo de Lima Baena Soares, emphasized that Russia, as a key supplier of fertilizers to the world market, plays a critically important role in ensuring food security. Brazil has a similarly significant role, producing enough food to feed 1 billion people in the world.

“Fertilizers from Russia are especially important for us as our countries are complementary within the framework of a single agricultural production chain. This is important for ensuring global food security. Russia is the largest producer and supplier of fertilizers in the world. Russia supplies about a quarter of fertilizers to our country,” the Ambassador said.

Natalya Popova, First Deputy General Director of Innopraktika, spoke about the importance of the development of genetics, selection, and biotechnology: “It is important to invest in new technologies and the creation of a full technological cycle to create innovative biotechnological solutions for the agricultural sector. In this area, we work closely with industrial partners, regions, and universities. Thus, together with PhosAgro, we are working on innovative products. These are biofungicides, nitrogen fixers, and biological plant protection products. We have already tested these technologies in 30 regions. The test results show that they reduce soil stress while increasing crop yields.”

Maxim Egorov, the Head of the Tambov Region, drew attention to the importance of “agro-diplomacy” and the promotion of new technologies, agricultural products, and fertilizers to the countries of the Global South.

“The Tambov Region is one of the leaders in agricultural production. Michurinsk, the only agricultural science city in Russia, is located in our region, and the place is truly unique. The central role here is played by Michurinsk State Agrarian University. Last year, the Russia-Africa Summit took place, where we made a presentation of our region. After that, representatives of the embassies of African countries began to come to our science city. And the surprising thing is that they were interested not so much in the supply of products as in personnel training and agricultural technologies,” said the Head of the Region.

Both fertilizers and food production and exports have suffered from Western sanctions, recalled Member of the Management Board of VTB Bank Vitaly Sergeichuk: “Even food and fertilizers that are excluded from the sanctions regime suffer from sanctions. And we are forced to reorganize logistics chains and payment chains. I would like to thank our partners, the countries that buy Russian agricultural products and fertilizers, for maintaining stable and long-term relations with Russia as a producer and supplier. Russia will fulfill its obligations and continue to supply fertilizers, wheat, and other agricultural products to the global market.”

Managing Director of the New Land Grain Corridor Group of Companies Karen Hovsepyan spoke about the creation of a new logistics infrastructure within the framework of two large-scale programs: “The first is the New Land Grain Corridor, which from initially Russian-Chinese project is now being transformed into multilateral entity by way of expanding within the framework of cooperation with the countries of Central Asia and the Middle East. As part of its activities, the world’s first grain hub has already been established in Zabaikalsk, and the Republic of Tatarstan is following this effort creating a similar pub on its land. The second program is called “Accessible Drinking Water for the BRICS Population”. Both programs exemplify highly sought-after unifying ideas, of which there is an acute shortage on our planet.” 

Oleg Kobyakov, Director of the UN FAO Office for Relations with the Russian Federation, called BRICS a stabilizing factor in global food production.

“The agri-food industry in these countries is growing faster than in the rest of the world. The recent entry of new members to the organization will further expand our capabilities. This is a guarantee that in the coming years it will be the BRICS that will lead the way for our planet out of the situation where we cannot cope with providing food to 700-800 million hungry people in the world,” said the FAO Liaison Official.

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