The 6th OIC Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development was held in Istanbul, Republic of Turkey on 03–06 October 2011, on the theme “Agricultural Development and Access to Food and Nutrition in OIC Countries”. The Conference was hosted by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of the Republic of Turkey. The objectives of the Conference included, among others, the evaluation of the outcomes of a number of recent actions, programmes and activities undertaken by the OIC and some Member Countries with a view to assisting the Member Countries in their efforts to alleviate hunger and foster agricultural development and food security.
The Conference was attended by honorable Ministers and Delegates from 36 OIC Member States and 2 OIC observer States. The Conference was also attended by the representatives of the OIC General Secretariat and its relevant institutions as well as representatives of various regional and international organizations. Dr. Savas Alpay, Director General, and Mr.Nabil Dabour, Director of Research Department, represented the SESRIC in the Conference.
The first two days (03-05 October) of the Conference were dedicated for the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) as preparation for the Ministerial Session, which held in the third day (06 October). In the opening ceremony of the SOM, H.E. Mr. Abdel Hafiz Ibrahim, Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan to the OIC, in his capacity as representative of the chairman of Fifth OIC Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development, made an opening statement. Afterwards, the Meeting elected the Conference Bureau and H.E. Mr. Vedat Mirmahmutoğulları, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of the Republic of Turkey, assumed the chairmanship of the Senior Officials Meeting. In his opening address, H.E. Mr. Vedat Mirmahmutoğullari, welcomed the participants of the Conference and drew attention to the causes of food price volatility and touched upon the need for transparency in agricultural commodity markets. He underlined the expertise of Turkey in agriculture sector and expressed his country’s readiness to share its experiences in the domain of technology transfer and promotion of market access of the products of smallholders. After the speech of the Chairman, H.E. Amb. Hameed A. Opeloyeru, Assistant Secretary General of the OIC for Economic Affairs, addressed the participants of the SOM and elaborated on the increasing emphasis of the OIC and its institutions on agriculture, rural development and food security in OIC Member States. He called for delegates’ intervention for the prompt submission of the relevant questionnaires to be used in the development of a framework of cooperation for OIC in the areas of Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security. In addition to emphasizing the need to support existing OIC projects on agricultural development, he also called on Member States to create special capacity-building programmes and agricultural funding windows in order to assist OIC Countries in need and to promote intra-OIC cooperation in this sector.
During the first plenary session, the representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) made a presentation on South-South Cooperation scheme to promote agricultural development and food security in OIC Member States. The presentation highlighted the importance of the FAO’s South-South Cooperation initiative by evaluating the benefits of the existing triangular cooperation arrangements. In the same session, delegates from the Member Countries also made presentations and highlighted the actions and challenges in the various areas such as state subsidies to farmers, natural resource management, water saving, information sharing, diversification of crop production, climate change, establishment of grain reserves, as well as exchange agricultural experts, researchers, planners and policy makers, among others.
During the second plenary session, the COMCEC Coordination Office presented a progress report on the work of the COMCEC Task Force on Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security. Afterwards, the representative of FAO briefed the Meeting about the establishment of a website for the collation of information from Member States. In this session, the representative of the SESRIC also made a presentation on “The State of Food Security and Agriculture Development in OIC Countries: Opportunities for Cooperation”. The presentation highlighted the current state of food security and agriculture development in OIC Member Countries. Furthermore, it identified some major challenges faced by the agriculture sector and proposed policy actions and project proposals for enhancing Intra-OIC cooperation to tackle these challenges and improve the food security situation in the OIC Member Countries.
The SOM also discussed and approved the draft resolution and the draft agenda of the Ministerial Session. The recommendations of the SOM were included in the draft resolution which together with the report of the SOM was presented to the Ministers in the OIC Ministerial Session.
In the opening ceremony of the Ministerial Session on 6th October, H.E. Mr. Mohammed Ahmed Alloba, Minister of State for Agriculture of the Republic of Sudan, in his capacity as chairman of the Fifth Ministerial Conference, delivered his opening statement. The General Secretariat of the OIC, also addressed the Ministerial Session and expressed appreciation to the COMCEC Task Force on Food Security for the work so far accomplished towards the elaboration of the OIC Executive Framework for Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security, while urging Member States to continue to support the earlier conclusion of this comprehensive blue-print for intra-OIC cooperation on food security.
Afterwards, H.E. Mr. Mehmet Mehdi Eker, the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of the Republic of Turkey and Chairman of the Conference, addressed the Ministerial Session and emphasized the need for measures to tackle the challenges of price volatilities in the agricultural commodity markets and determine the causes of this phenomenon. In this regard, he suggested that SESRIC could be entrusted with the task of compiling and updating the inventories on agricultural production in OIC Member States. He also informed the Conference that Turkey has launched a campaign for humanitarian assistance to Somalia, emphasizing that an amount of $320 million has been collected as at 3rd October 2011.
The Ministers and Heads of Delegation of Afghanistan, Palestine and Nigeria addressed the Conference on behalf of the Asian, Arab and African OIC Regional Groups respectively. They all dwelt on the urgent actions and interventions required in order to address the current challenges to food security and inadequate agricultural productivity in OIC Member States. Afterwards, Dr.David Nabarro, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of United Nations on Food Security and Nutrition, elaborated on the diverse areas of possible cooperation between the OIC and United Nations family towards ensuring sustainable agricultural development and food security in OIC Member States.
During the Ministerial Session, the Ministers deliberated on various issues related to theme of the Conference by presenting their national programmes on food security and agricultural and rural development, detailing their respective Countries’ experiences and recommending required actions for active intra-OIC cooperation. The Conference also reviewed the various presentations on possible areas of collaboration between OIC and other international organizations and institutions like COMCEC Coordination Office, World Food Programme (WFP), Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The participants also reviewed with admiration the documentary film on the Turkish experiences on agriculture and food security.
The Conference considered the Report of the Senior Officials Meeting, including the Draft Resolution OIC/ICAM-6/2011/D.RES and unanimously adopted both the Resolution and the Report of the Sixth OIC Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development. The Conference also welcomed the offer made by the Republic of Senegal to host the 7th Ministerial Conferences on Food Security and Agricultural Development in 2012.
At the end, the Conference congratulated H.E. Mr. Mehmet Mehdi Eker, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of the Republic of Turkey, on his chairmanship of the Conference and commended his immense contribution to the success of the Conference. The participants also expressed appreciation to the President Abdullah Gul and the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for their continued support and high patronage of the Conference.
More and detailed information are available in the official website of the Conference at: http://www.oicagmin-ist.org/conference.php