ASTANA – Kazakhstan handed over the chairpersonship at the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) to Tunisia during the fifth General Assembly on Oct. 10-11 in Tunis.
Opening the ministerial session on Oct. 11, Kazakh Minister of Agriculture Yerbol Karashukeyev, the chair of the fourth General Assembly held in September 2021, handed over the chairmanship to Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources, and Fisheries Mahmoud Elies Hamza.
Hamza expressed gratitude to Kazakhstan for chairing the General Assembly and vowed the “willingness of Tunisia, as the chair, to fulfill the outlined tasks with commitment.”
During the press briefing at IOFS headquarters in Astana on Oct. 12, the members of the organization welcomed Tunisia’s chairpersonship and spoke about the importance of the IOFS activities.
“We have to take care not only of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries but globally. We have a very important program regarding the regional food security reserve,” said Director of Programs and Projects Office Abdelhamid Ismail.
Director of International Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid Office Daulet Yemberdiyev emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation in ensuring food security.
“It is a misconception that countries have to provide for their food security. It is impossible to produce all the agricultural products in one country. The only solution is to interact with other countries, with your neighbors,” said Yemberdiyev. “Our efforts and activities in providing food security and safety are based on five pillars and 16 programs. These programs are established in a way to enable all member countries to benefit from them.”
Main outcomes of the IOFS ministerial session
IOFS Director General Yerlan Baidaulet welcomed the progress achieved in implementing the organization’s strategic programs and the involvement of member states in addressing common food security issues.
One of the decisions of the assembly was to establish a food security reserve system, which will ensure supplies in times of food shortage by forming six regional food reserves.
The grain fund will facilitate cooperation in agriculture development and food security among the OIC member states and may become a tool in preventing destabilization in the grain market, especially regarding pricing policies.
The IOFS assembly decided to boost the work of the International Islamic Food Processing Association (IFPA), which primarily focuses on business-to-business cooperation.
The sheep farming fund will receive financing from institutional investors to keep promoting sustainable supplies of top-quality meat.
The IOFS also plans to build partnerships with non-governmental organizations dealing with agriculture, rural development, and food security.
The assembly participants expressed concern for the destruction of strategic food security infrastructure due to international conflicts and proposed to establish the Center for Plant and Animal Genetic Resources, deeming Kazakhstan a suitable location.
The IOFS will also celebrate Food Security Day every Dec. 11 from now on.
The assembly welcomed Tajikistan and Chad as full-fledged members, bringing the number of member states to 37. Azerbaijan also expressed the desire to achieve this goal in the future.
The IOFS works under the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) umbrella and unites 37 member states, primarily located in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Its creation was proposed by the First President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in 2011. The organization’s first General Assembly was held in 2016 in Astana where the headquarters is stationed.