BRICs to Cooperate over Food Security

GLOBAL - Brazil, Russia, India and China (the so-called BRIC countries) have reached agreement in Moscow to cooperate to increase food security by exchanging information supply and demand situations.
calendar icon 29 March 2010
clock icon 4 minute read

Brazil, Russia, India and China agreed to combat hunger and boost efforts to promote food security, according to a strategy signed by the countries' agriculture ministers in Moscow on 26 March, reports Moscow Times.

The declaration stated: "In order to promote food security, it is necessary to have a well-functioning, worldwide food market and a trade system based on the principles of justice and freedom from discrimination. Therefore, speeding up the accomplishment of the WTO Doha round of talks is a primary task."

The Doha round of negotiations, which started in 2001, is aimed at lowering trade barriers. The talks were stalled in 2008 over disagreements between developed and developing countries on measures that would allow poorer countries to levy tariffs on certain agricultural goods.

The BRIC countries agreed last week to establish an agricultural information database that would help countries compute supply and demand and establish grain reserves.

In addition, the ministers agreed to reduce the effects of global climate change on food security and cooperate in the field of agricultural technology and innovation. An expert working group was set up to implement these measures, and it will meet on a regular basis, the statement said.

The four agriculture ministers – Russia's Yelena Skrynnik, China's Han Changfu, Brazil's Guilherme Cassel and India's Sharad Pawar – also made signs of boosting trade within the group.

The countries are home to 42 per cent of the world's population and 32 per cent of its arable land, the Russian Agriculture Ministry said in a statement ahead of the meeting. Combined, the BRIC countries produce about 40 per cent of the world's wheat, 50 per cent of its pork, more than 30 per cent of its poultry and 30 per cent of its beef, the statement said.

According to Moscow Times, Ms Skrynnik said after the meeting that Russia had made its first shipment of grain, 24,000 metric tons, to Brazil. The country already accounts for 65 per cent of Russia's meat imports ($2.1 billion) and 12.4 per cent of total agriculture imports.

She added that poultry from India could help replace US imports of the meat, which were frozen when long-planned regulations went into effect that forbid the import of poultry treated with chlorine – a production method used by many US producers. In exchange, Russia hopes to secure India as a buyer for its grain and oilseeds.

However, Russia has stated its intention to decrease its reliance on agricultural imports. Earlier this year, President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new food security doctrine, calling for 85 per cent of all meat consumed in the country to be produced domestically. Instead, it is trying to position itself as a major regional agriculture supplier, hoping to double its exports of grain within 15 years.

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