Food fair provides global stage

  • 2011-02-02
  • By Ella Karapetyan

TALLINN - Estonia is aspiring to become a partner country in 2013 to the biggest agricultural and food fair, Grune Woche, held in Berlin. This would then probably give Estonia the biggest chance of self-promotion in history, both in Germany and throughout the world.

The ministers of agriculture of 48 countries who met in the framework of the largest agriculture and food fair, Grune Woche, in January found that in the framework of world food security, it is most important to regulate international trade and increase food production in less developed areas.

The fair takes place in Berlin in January each year and is visited by almost half a million people. The fair and activities of its partner countries are reflected by more than 7,000 journalists from more than 50 countries.
“These numbers show what kind of opportunities to introduce oneself, being a partner country of the fair, will give Estonia,” said the Minister of Agriculture of Estonia Helir-Valdor Seeder. “Estonia has experience with organizing different big events and as a state we should definitely use this opportunity. It would undoubtedly be the biggest project of Estonia’s self-promotion, which actually is a lot more extensive than just the events of the Green Week.”

According to Seeder, Europeans might not sense the problem of food security very strongly, because though the price of food has increased, it is still difficult to talk about food scarcity in Europe as well as in Estonia. “With time, this might become a problem also for us, because with a rapid price increase, food will become too expensive also for many Europeans,” mentioned Seeder. “It is expected that demand for food will increase in tens of percentages within the upcoming decades, but in today’s situation, this most certainly will not be met with growth of production in such a large extent,” noted Seeder.

The ministers of agriculture agreed that on the one hand, international trade needs to be better regulated to avoid large-scale speculation with food prices. On the other hand, focus has to be on increasing food production, because there is a lot of land which is suitable for agriculture but is not used, especially in developing countries.

“Also, the youngest country in the world, South-Sudan, was represented at the meeting of agriculture ministers. Only 4 percent of agricultural land is in use in South-Sudan,” pointed out Seeder. “Such examples can be found all over the world and developed countries, including Estonia, have to support the usage of such opportunities.”
Grune Woche lasted until Jan. 30. The central theme of this year’s Estonian stand was sea and fish products. Estonia’s stand reflected the main theme of this year’s Capital of Culture Tallinn – Stories of the Seashore. The stand was organized by the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce.

The Estonian delegation met on the same topic with Raimond Hosch, the chairman of the board of Messe Berlin, which is the organizer of Grune Woche, who supported Estonia’s aspirations. Estonia’s aspirations were also supported by the German Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner and agricultural ministers of several federal states.

According to the Deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry of Agriculture Andres Oopkaup, Estonia will celebrate its 20th participation year at Grune Woche in 2013, which is why this year would be very suitable for being a partner country. “The decision on the partner country for 2013 will be made in autumn this year,” said Oopkaup.

In the framework of the fair, Seeder also met with the Minister of Agriculture of Russia Jelena Skronnik, with whom the plans are to sign a memorandum of cooperation in the future. During his visit, Seeder met with the ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine. Seeder also participated at the summit of agriculture ministers where solutions were sought for the problem of global food security.

One of the world’s biggest agriculture and food fairs has become a tradition since it was first held in 1926.
Estonia will sign cooperation agreements with several German federal states, with the main focus on vocational education and research and development. According to Seeder, innovative agriculture and good agricultural education are one of the most important topics in ensuring food security during the upcoming decades. “Demand for food will increase drastically within the upcoming decades and it is not possible to satisfy this need without science,” Seeder explained.

Cooperation agreements were to be signed with Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein federal states.
The Estonian delegation also participated in the second Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Summit, where the topic was ‘Trade and Global Food Security.’