Food safeguarding in Russia, among other things, is targeted at the efficient country’s participation in international cooperation in the area of food security; maintenance of the strategic stability and mutually beneficial partner relations under the conditions of the multi-polar world; strengthening and developing of cooperation with international and regional organizations, tuning of mechanisms for the interstate dialogues on the food security issues.
One of the mechanisms to ensure food security is the development of fundamental and applied scientific research in the area of agriculture, its integration into the world research and development (R&D) system, and strengthening of the scientific potential in all segments of the agro-industrial complex in Russia and former CIS countries to achieve world standards in R&D, including their results implementation.
Until recently, Russia’s participation in the international aid provision was limited. By the time of the Concept approval, Russia had become a recognized donor, contributing to various international development support programs and funds. Russia’s participation in the Group of Eight caused more targeted and large-scale development assistance.
Food security initiatives are one of the directions of Russia’s assistance to low-income countries. Russia has been providing food aid bilaterally through the World Food Program, and would like to increase its multilateral contribution to global food security in Central Asia and East European countries.
In 2008, Russia signed a Trust Fund Agreement for support to the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries. Following the Concept, Russia provides international development assistance on a multilateral basis, through UN programs, funds (including existing or newly created trust funds), and specialized agencies, by participating in global funds and by implementing special initiatives of the G8, The World Band, IMF, and UN agencies.
The G20 Summit in Pittsburg (September, 2009) called on the World Bank to play a leading role in responding to problems whose nature requires globally coordinated action, such as food security. To fulfill its mandate, the World Bank was requested “to develop a new trust fund to support the new Food Security Initiative for low-income countries announced last summer”. It is to reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and to enhance ecosystem resilience through high-quality international agricultural research, partnerships and leadership; mobilize science and technology to stimulate institutional innovation and enabling policies for pro-poor agricultural growth and gender equity.
In response to the global food price crisis of 2007/2008 and following up on commitments made to the G8, the government of the Russian Federation was determined to increase its response to global food security concerns, particularly through multilateral channels including the intensification of Russia’s contributions to international agricultural research and knowledge sharing. According to the L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security (L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, July, 2009), the Government of Russia has committed to take the necessary measures as appropriate to ensure the achievement of specific targets in the areas of world food security. One of these measures relates to the agricultural research and education: as it was set out in the Joint Statement, “investment in and access to education, research, science and technologies should be substantially strengthened at national, regional and international level. Their dissemination, as well as the sharing of information and best practices including through North-South, South-South and Triangular cooperation, is essential to promote knowledge-based policy and national capacity”.
Creation of the Eurasian Center for Food Security (ECFS) was one of concrete responses of the Russian Federation to the world food crisis. It is the effective measure to provide a noticeable assistance to the partner countries in the Eurasian region.
Prospects and Challenges
As a result of the Conference devoted to the global launch of the Eurasian Center for Food Security, “The Moscow Declaration (PDF)” summarizing the establishment of ECFS and the joint understanding of representatives participating in the conference was issued. Significant progress was made towards a relevant and focused vision statement. The Conference illustrated a spirit and willingness to cooperate among the major stakeholders, both from the regional and the international side.
Next step in the joint ECFS-WB-Focus Countries work will be Needs Assessment and Gaps Analysis. Agreement was reached to conduct needs assessment exercises in the four target countries, which will be implemented during April and May this year, and then will be followed by the development of work program and plan.
In addition, the ECFS will develop a regional plan of work to improve data availability and inform regional and international policy making; consider the development of a policy analysis platform similar to what IFPRI has in place for Africa, the organization of an international conference on food security, the development of “food security” country notes, the implementation of “best practice” reviews, and the development of data bases on food security projects and activities in the focus countries. It was also agreed that ECFS needs to start developing a fund raising strategy.
Brief Overview of Key Presentations:
- Mr. Kiselev, Head of the Eurasian Center for Food Security in Russia, described the history and purpose of the ECFS creation; he presented the current vision of the Center.
- Mr. Kray, Task Team Leader for the Bank's support to the EFCS, outlined the linkages between current challenges of the world food security and the ECFS’s goals and tasks. He stressed that for the ECFS:
- Food security is a key development challenge;
- Regional collaboration is key to successfully addressing this challenge; and
- Knowledge is a key driver of agricultural development.
- Also, Mr. Elliottpresented an overview on the organization and evolution of policy research institutes, including those based at universities. It showed that the current best practice is to operate in a networking mode. Having a “flagship” program helped to enhance recognition and credibility.
- Representatives of the Eurasian countries presented key outcomes of the analysis on food security in their countries.
- There were several presentations analyzing the evolutionary path of similar international research centers. In particular, Mr. Joachim von Braun made a presentation that summarized the experience of the Center for Development Research, Bonn (ZEF). Mr. Fan and Mr. Turok summarized programs and activities of their institutions (IFPRI and ICARDA); they indicated potential areas of collaboration with ECFS. Similarly, the representative of the European Union described EU and FAO activities on soil information systems and the Global Soil Partnership Program. Possible ECFS role in serving as the Eurasian regional hub for the latter was discussed.