The EU must strengthen food security

Food security and the role of European agriculture and food in sustainable global food production were the main topics of today’s informal meeting of EU agriculture ministers in Prague. Ministers agreed that the EU must now act in a coordinated manner to maximize sustainable increases in agricultural production and accelerate the use of modern techniques in agriculture. The meeting was chaired by Czech Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula, in the presence of Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski, representatives of NGOs, the European Parliament, academics and Ministers of Agriculture of Ukraine , Georgia and Moldova.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the lingering effects of the pandemic and advancing climate change are having a major impact on global food security and global food prices. Agriculture ministers mainly discussed how to ensure sufficient food production and distribution to the most vulnerable countries while ensuring sustainability. One of the main solutions is to use innovation, research and modern technologies, including precision agriculture, to further reduce the consumption of pesticides and fertilizers while maintaining the necessary productivity.

“Although there is enough food in the European Union, the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have worsened the food crisis in the world. We have a major challenge in the Union to sustainably increase production agriculture, reduce food waste and ensure that people around the world have access to quality food. It may be time to rethink some traditional approaches to food production in favor of new, modern techniques,” said the Minister. of Agriculture, Zdeněk Nekula.

science and innovation
Science, innovation and modern methods of plant breeding in agriculture were among the main topics of the meeting. It included contributions from Czech experts, Professor Miroslav Trnka and Roman Hobza, PhD. Both said the new trends can help the EU reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, manage water or breed new varieties that are more resistant to extreme weather fluctuations and new plant pests and diseases. . Ministers agreed that the EU must react as quickly as possible to the development of modern trends and not hinder innovation. It is therefore important to change the outdated legislative framework by which the EU regulates the use of modern plant breeding methods. This framework not only restricts European farmers, but also leads to an exodus of the best experts to countries outside the European Union, so that the damage is extraordinary.

“Even if the war in Ukraine negatively affects food production, commodity markets, energy prices, and therefore all of us, we as the European Union must not resign ourselves to taking care of the landscape We urgently need drought-, frost-, disease- and pest-resistant crops that require less pesticides and artificial fertilizers, which is why I am glad that the Commissioner has made it clear that the European Commission is ready to present proposals for plant breeding legislation in the short term that will help solve the current problems,” said Minister Nekula.

Situation in Ukraine, exports of raw materials
In the context of food security and food distribution, Mykola Solskyi, Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture, summarized the current challenges that Ukraine faces in this area. He also underlined the importance of the solidarity channels facilitated by the EU and called for their extension. Due to the occupation of several Ukrainian ports by Russian troops, Ukrainian grain must also pass through other routes.

“According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, almost 40% of Africa’s total wheat imports come from Russia and Ukraine. The World Food Programme, which feeds some 125 million people, buys 50% of its grain from Ukraine. corridors make sense, and we will discuss the possibilities of extending and strengthening them as a separate topic at the Brussels Council on September 26,” said Minister Nekula.

EU measures, background
To ensure food security in the context of the war in Ukraine, the EU has developed in record time an action plan, the Solidarity Lanes, to facilitate the export of Ukrainian products by land and river. In addition, the abolition of customs duties on imports of Ukrainian products into the EU contributes to this situation so that goods can travel more easily to countries in Africa, for example. In addition to emergency aid to the most vulnerable sectors, using as much agricultural land as possible for food production and exempting crop rotation for next year should also help European farmers. The EU is also providing financial support to the countries most at risk at the moment.

The meeting of agriculture ministers concluded a three-day program in the Czech Republic. In addition to Prague, they visited several farms to learn more about agricultural production in the Czech Republic. The informal ministerial meeting is organized by each presidency in its country and consists of a discussion on a chosen topic which serves as the basis for subsequent decision-making.

For more information:
Concilium of the Czech Presidency

Berta D. Wells