On 21 October, the Russian side chaired the 5th Meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture of the SCO Member States in an online format.
The event was attended by India's Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Parshottam Rupala; Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan Saparkhan Omarov; China's Vice Minister of Agriculture Zhang Taolin; Minister of Agriculture, Food Industry and Land Reclamation of the Kyrgyz Republic Erkinbek Choduyev; Pakistani Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam; Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation Dmitry Patrushev; Minister of Agriculture of Tajikistan Amonullo Faizullo Salimzoda; Minister of Agriculture of Uzbekistan Jamshid Khodzhaev; SCO Deputy Secretary General Sherali Saidamir Jonon; and Assistant Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia Vladimir Rakhmanin.
During his message of greetings to meeting participants, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov noted the high level of solidarity and mutual support of the SCO member states in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, a serious challenge for the global economy.
"The pandemic has provoked high unemployment rates, it has disrupted supply chains and destabilised the global food market.
"It goes wthout saying that member states continue to display a high level of soldarity, mutual support and mutual assistance in these conditions during Russia's SCO presidency. In this aspect, the development of joint measures to overcome the pandemic's negative consequences and the activation of existing SCO cooperation mechanisms is becoming ever more topical."
In the context of further cooperation between the countries under the upgraded Programme of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation of the SCO Member States until 2035, passed in November 2019 in Tashkent. the Secretary-General noted the topicality of developing aspects such as innovations and "smart" agriculture; expanded exports; measures in the field of veterinary-sanitary, phyto-sanitary and food security; experience exchanges in the sphere of crop production, seed farming and livestock breeding; the conversion to "green" agriculture; the efficient use of water resources and easy access to a high-quality infrastructure.
"The Joint Communique of the 18th SCO Heads of State Council (HSC) Meeting (1 ̶ 2 November 2019) underscored the need for the further strengthening the SCO role in addressing tasks to guarantee food security, strengthen the global food market and expand production of environmentally friendly and organic foods.
Regional and international food security matters have become more topical during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 820
million people all over the world did not have enough food to eat in 2018. In 2020, the number of undernourished people may reach 132 million. It is highly important to chart new steps under the Cooperation Programme on Food Security, adopted in October 2018 in Dushanbe.
"We consider China's initiative to establish the SCO's Yangling demonstration base for exchange and training in agricultural technologies in the Shaanxi Province to be a new page in the history of intra-SCO agriculture cooperation. Joint collaboration implies the creation of such sectoral growth points as modern agricultural clusters and agricultural parks prrioritising the use of modern innovative technologies, the transfer of cutting-edge irrigation technology, developing arid lands, the creation of a chain of commodity inspections, certification matters in the SCO countries and training the concerned specialists in the field of standardisation," the Secretary-General noted.
The SCO Sectetary-General also praised the pooling of the SCO countries' practical efforts with the potential of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation under a memorandum of understanding between the SCO Secretariat and FAO.
In turn, the ministers discussed the overall state of agriculture and its prospects in the SCO countries and exchanged opinions and experience on mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic's consequences. They coordinated planned measures to further implement the 2021 ̶ 2025 Agreement of Cooperation in Agriculture and the Programme on Food Security.
They approved China's initiative to establish the SCO's demonstration base for exchanging and teaching agrarian technologies in the Shaanxi Province.
Following the meeting, the participants signed a protocol and approved a news bulletin of the 5th Meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture of the SCO Member States.