Experts and political leaders gather on future of Russian agriculture

Posted by agricultureforum on 08/09/10

6th September 2010 – The Forum for the Future of Agriculture’s meeting in Moscow has raised many important issues. These have included the necessity to build a greater understanding between the EU and Russia on agricultural policy and the need to establish closer links. In addition, leaders have been asked to work together and find solutions to common food and environmental security challenges.

This meeting has taken place against the backdrop of the decision taken by the Russian Government to ban exports of cereals, following a summer of severe drought. This event brought together key political leaders from Russia and the EU, along with stakeholders from International agri-businesses, farmers and landowners, academic institutions, and NGO’s, with the aim of establishing key areas for cooperation and the best farming practices.

During the FFA, stakeholders have demonstrated a great interest in the development which Russian agriculture has undergone over the last two decades. However, speakers have also concentrated on Russia’s need for machinery modernization and on the need to develop her infrastructure. Stakeholders have also focused their attention on the EU’s and Russia’s agricultural trade, despite the cereals export ban, since Russia is still considered the EU’s third biggest trading partner. On top of this, at the FFA there have also been demands for an expansion of areas of cooperation between the EU and Russia in order for agriculture and food security issues to be covered.

Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation Elena Skrynnik, wrote to Conference delegates telling them that “Agribusiness has always been one of the key industries in Russia. Grain production is considered to be the basis of agribusiness as well as being of strategic importance in providing our country with food security, strengthening Russia’s position in the global agri-food market, and establishing the foundation of our Customs Union.” She also spoke about this summer’s extreme climatic conditions which “complicated the economic conditions of agricultural commodity producers.”

Conference Chairman, the former EU Agriculture Commissioner and Chairman of the RISE Foundation Franz Fischler also participated in this event and argued that “unless climate change and the consequences of environmental degradation are not successfully tackled it will have a serious impact on our ability to produce enough food.” For Mr. Fischler in order to avoid major political, economic, social and environmental upheavals “the collaboration between the EU and Russia is of fundamental importance.”

President and founder of AMBIKA Mikhail Orlov spoke about Russia’s potential to “guarantee domestic social stability by providing its population with enough quality food at acceptable prices” However, in order to achieve this; he made it clear that “Russia must become more efficient and competitive.” Therefore, although Mr. Orlov believes in “Russia’s potential to become a leading world power in the Feed the World Challenge” and is aware of the fact that “ Europe is one of Russia’s most important neighbors and partners” , in his own words, “formal as well as informal bridges must of course be further improved and consolidated.”

Chief Executive of Syngenta in Russia, Mr. Pierre Cohadon stated that “with 10% of the World’s arable land, Russia has enormous potential for expanding agricultural production.” His optimistic view on Russia’s position the World was made clear with the words “I am convinced Russia will soon become a leader in the world grain production, maybe even surpassing the US as the World’s biggest wheat exporter.” With regards to the role of Syngenta, he spoke about Synegnta’s active role in Russian expansion, by having offered both “small and large hold farmers innovative products and technology as well as training activities.”

Finally, ELO’s secretary General Thierry de L’ Escaille went on to talk about the need to “find solutions to the global challenges of food security, climate change and environmental degradation” and of the importance of Russian and EU cooperation in environmental protection “in order to successfully tackle food and environmental security challenges at the global level.”

Over 150 delegates, drawn from Russia and across the EU, attended the Regional FFA and again contributed to a high level of debate on the challenges and opportunities in Russian agriculture and the scope for partnership with the European Union.

The Forum for the Future of Agriculture returns to The Square, Brussels, next year with it’s annual conference (FFA2011) taking place on Tuesday March 15th 2011.

Challenges & opportunities for Russian agriculture: EU Agriculture Policy leaders join Russian counterparts at Regional FFA2010

Posted by agricultureforum on 03/09/10

On the 6th September over 150 delegates are expected to attend the year’s second Regional Forum for the Future of Agriculture in Moscow. Important political leaders such as former EU Agriculture Commissioner, Franz Fischler, and Paolo De Castro (Chairman of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee), will join Russian Minister of Agriculture Elena Skrynnik, and President of the Russian Grain Union Arkady Zlochevsky, at this event. This Forum will particularly focus on the impressive developments in Russian agriculture, its place in the world, and should assess the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Russia is one of the most important centers for agricultural production due to her vast reserves of highly fertile land. It is a country which has a great potential to increase agricultural production, since it comprises approximately 133 million hectares of arable land upon which many believe it is possible to double yields of cereals and even triple them on the best soils. Indeed, some commentators have argued that – in the years ahead – the country could replace the United States as the world’s biggest exporter of wheat.

Many significant steps have already been taken as Russia proceeds with agricultural reform and modernization although challenges remain in terms of storage, transport, and farmer education. Progress has also been temporarily interrupted by a production crisis following the summer’s extreme climatic conditions which has resulted in an export ban, which many believe is fuelling the recent spikes seen in global commodity prices.

This will no doubt form the back drop to discussions in Moscow with a heightened interest amongst delegates, particularly from Europe, in understanding how Russia is responding. However, whilst Russia’s Agriculture Minister Skrynnik initially expressed concern about harvest forecasts for 60 million tons, her Ministry and the Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Agency have recently released an optimistic forecast for 65 million to 67 million tons.

With all this in mind, delegates will no doubt be looking forward to hearing the views of the impressive line up of speakers who will give their perspective on how to unlock Russia’s Agricultural potential and the way to forge a greater understanding and cooperation with the EU on agricultural policy.

The Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) is a partnership between the European Landowners Organization, RISE Foundation, and Syngenta. The Regional FFA in Moscow is organized in association with the AMBIKA Group and the Russian Grain Union.

FFA2010 Regional Sub-Conference provides new Hungarian State Secretary with first platform

Posted by elinorkruse on 10/06/10

Over 200 stakeholders representing the Hungarian farming community & land owners, government, NGOs, and research institutes, gathered in Budapest, on June 3rd, at the first Regional Conference in the 2010 programme of the Forum for the Future Agriculture.

Held in conjunction with GOSZ, the Hungarian Grain Producers Organization, this Regional Conference focussed on the Challenges of Modern Food and Feed Production and took place just six months before Hungary takes over the EU Presidency.

The Conference represented the first opportunity for the newly appointed State Secretary at the Hungarian Ministry for Rural Development, György Czervan, to convey his thoughts on this important subject.

He made clear that it will be necessary to find new solutions to develop an agricultural strategy and argued that farming should become more sustainable and multifunctional. He also pointed to the forthcoming Hungarian presidency of the European Union and suggested that one of the main priorities will be water management. Mr. Czervan said that he would like to cooperate on this topic with other member states including neighbouring Poland that will succeed Hungary in the EU’s presidency.

Finally, the new State Secretary highlighted the importance of maintaining the Common Agriculture Policy and also pointed to the fact that Hungary has a long tradition in agricultural expertise and research and the country’s scientists will be on  of Hungary’s most important assets in this respect.

The meeting was also addressed by Thierry de L’Escaille, Secretary-General of the European Landowners Organization, and Jethro Schiansky from the RISE Foundation who discussed the concept of the delivery of public goods by land managers and farmers. Both insisted that farmers and land managers need to be properly rewarded or incentivised to provide such environmental goods and services if the market itself will not pay. It was stressed that both the agricultural and environmental sectors needed to jointly make the case for a CAP budget commensurate to deal with global challenges that Europe must contribute to meeting also after 2013. 

This was also a topic picked up by Professor Jozsef Popp from the Research Institute for Agricultural Economics, who emphasised the need for a broader environmental benefit to society to be delivered by the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy. He insisted that “In the CAP reform after 2013, a proper weight has to be given to food ecology and climate change.”

Representing Syngenta, one of the founding partners of the Forum for the Future of Agriculture, Mark Titterington argued that policies like the CAP have to lead to stable farm incomes and enable farmers to access the best available tools, technologies and training necessary for high performance agriculture and the delivery of social and environmental public goods and services.

The conference was followed by a trip to look at two industry-led initiatives on soil conservation and biodiversity. Rozalia Pecze from Syngenta presented the company’s MARGINS project which seeks to demonstrate how soil erosion can be reduced through minimum tillage and strategically placed and managed field margins or buffer strips. Given the heavy rains across Hungary in recent weeks the need to succeed in this endeavour was clear for all to see.

There was also a chance to see Operation Pollinator, which aims to boost pollinator populations through the cultivation and management of field margins which provide habitat and nutrition. The Hungarian component of Operation Pollinator forms part of a pan-European, multi-million euro effort by Syngenta to cultivate 10,000 hectares of dedicated field margin for pollinating insects over the next 5 years.

In conclusion, the arguments put forward during this FFA2010 Regional Conference, together with the field trip, has reinforced the need for food and environmental security to be addressed together at both EU and Member States and shows the benefits which can be delivered when this happens.

The FFA2010 programme now moves onto Moscow in September where the subject of Russian agriculture and its place in the world, will be addressed by delegates from the Russian Federation, the European Union, and beyond.

Breaking ground in Budapest

Posted by elinorkruse on 05/05/10
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After the Forum for the Future of Agriculture, which took place in Brussels on March 16, went ahead with great success, it is now taken abroad – again – as sub-events are being organised in Budapest, Moscow, and with an outlook to Marrakesh.

The events, held under the auspices of the FFA2010, have a strong regional focus, addressing similar issues to those of the main conference. Food security in the face of climate change remains a key topic.

Themed Challenges of Modern Food and Feed Production, the conference encourages debate on the activities of farmers, rural businesses and landowners and the positive impact modern farming has had on biodiversity.

Providing a platform to illustrate how agriculture today is inextricably linked to environmental protection and the enhancement of local economies and communities, the Budapest conference is jointly organised by Syngenta, GOSZ (Hungarian Grain Producers Association) and the European Landowners’ Organisation.

The programme includes a wide range of interesting speakers from the European Institutions, as well as from the private sector and NGOs. Welcoming remarks will be made by József Vancsura, President of GOSZ, and Thierry de l’Escaille, Secretary General of the ELO, who will act as the Chair of the meeting.

A field trip to three nearby trial sites of Operation Pollinator – a project developed by Syngenta and based on scientific research and the experience of selected farmers to establish and manage pollen rich habitat around the farm to recover the number of pollinating insects – is planned on the morning of June 4 to close the seminar.

The purpose of the trip is to study multifunctional field margins as put into practice. As the previous day’s discussions on the CAP will have shown, farmers play an important role in the delivery of public goods. To follow-up, Prof Ádam Kertesz, from the Hungarian Academy of Science, together with Dr Jeremy Dyson, Syngenta’s Sustainable Use Manager, will present the MARGINS project and Dr Miklos Sarospataky will introduce Operation Pollinator.

 

Should you wish to attend, please contact Emmanuelle Mikosz or gabonatermesztok@gabonatermesztok.hu to register your interest or to obtain more information and a detailed programme. We are looking forward to an interesting conference!

Mairead McGuinness MEP Discusses CAP Reform

Posted by agricultureforum on 16/04/10

Blogactiv spoke to Mairead McGunness MEP at the 3rd Forum for the Future of Agriculture in Brussels. She explains her hopes for a reformed Common Agricultural Policy and how any changes may impact farmers and consumers.

Can The World Feed Itself In The Short-Term?

Posted by agricultureforum on 16/04/10

At FFA 2010, we spoke to Bernard Graciet, Head of EU Corporate Affairs for Syngenta. He explains why he believes that in the short-term, the agricultural world needs to be more organised if it is to prevent another food crisis. He is, however, very hopeful that the world can feed a larger population in the future.

How Should Agricultural Policy Be Changed?

Posted by agricultureforum on 15/04/10

Blogactiv was able to speak to Ariel Brunner, Chief Policy Officer at Birdlife International, at the 3rd Forum for the Future of Agriculture in Brussels. He discusses the changes he believes are required in CAP policy and agricultural policy.

We Need To Rethink The Roles Of Markets And Economics

Posted by agricultureforum on 15/04/10

Blogactiv was pleased to speak to Sir Crispin Tickell, environmental thought leader, author and former adviser to Margaret Thatcher. He explains why he thinks we need a rethink or markets, economics, town planning, agriculture and much more in this wide ranging macro level interview.

Tomorrow will give us something to think about – Students’ views on the future of agriculture

Posted by elinorkruse on 01/04/10

The Student Forum run in parallel to the FFA2010 was a fantastic success – over 80 young people to whom agriculture and policy-making means a great deal came together to listen to a strong and opinionated panel and discussed the issues close to their hearts.

To retain the views of this diverse group of students, live-polls on various questions were carried out, giving the students the opportunity to express their outlook on a better future of agriculture. The interesting results were then presented at the plenary of the main Forum of the FFA2010.

 
 

 

What should be the top priority for policymakers in order to ensure a better future for agriculture in Europe ?

1.      Innovation – 23%

2.      Subsidies to farmers – 22%

3.      Environmental policies – 15%

4.      Food security – 13%

5.      Trade – 13%

6.      Rural development – 8%

7.      Organic agriculture – 3%

8.      Stop farming all together – 2%

9.      Helping developing countries – 0%

 
 

 

In 10 years, what should Europe’s agricultural model look like?

1.      Intensive – 79%

2.      Organic – 21%

 

1.      Large-scale – 69%

2.      Small-scale – 31%

 

 

1.      Exporting – 85%

2.      Importing – 15%

 

 

1.      Productive – 77%

2.      Agri-tourism – 23%

 
 

 

What is most needed to help farmers in Europe grow more from less?

1.      Access to technology – 51%

2.      Resourceful land use – 16%

3.      We don’t need to grow more – 13%

4.      Water efficiency – 10%

5.      Biodiversity – 10%

How do you plan to make a difference for the future of agriculture?

1.      I will be a farmer – 44%

2.      I will work for an agri-business – 22%

3.      I will be a scientist – 14%

4.      I will become a policy-maker – 10%

5.      I will join an NGO – 9%

6.      I will give up on agriculture – 1%

 

To follow-up on the event held on March 16 please visit www.forumforagriculture.com or join the online community on https://forumforagriculture.trustedarea.net.

 

Xavier Bourgeois at FFA 2010

Posted by agricultureforum on 01/04/10

Xavier Bourgeois, young farmer and a member of Agribrussels explains some of the issues facing farmers in Europe. European citizens are uninterested in supporting European Bio and Green farmers, making their purchases based only on cost rather than the more ecologically-friendly choices available through local farms.

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In March 2008, the European Landowners Organization, (ELO) and Syngenta came together to create a new Forum in which the future of agriculture could be debated, from a European perspective, and where the main challenges facing the sector could be addressed and the necessary responses understood, discussed and agreed. more.



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