AGROFORUM BALTICUM 2014
On 22–24 April 2014, the second international discussion forum Agroforum Balticum, organised by the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Saint Petersburg State University in cooperation with the Estonian Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO took place as a companion of the Rural Fair, one of the biggest rural fairs in the Baltic Sea region, in Tartu, Estonia. This year, the topic of the Forum was – free and fair trade in agricultural products.
The objectives of Agroforum were the following:
- To draw public attention to the most important issues of the sector of agriculture, in order to increase public awareness of the future functions of agriculture and different regions and of the ways to meet the set objectives.
- To improve cooperation between policy makers, researchers and sector representatives in order to promote the efficiency of the use of resources, with a view to smart, sustainable and involving development of agriculture and rural life in concordance with the Europe 2020 Strategy.
Agroforum was targeted at decision makers on political, administrative and research level and at producers’ associations, incl. ministers of agriculture and other higher state public servants, managers of agricultural universities, producers’ representatives, food processors’ and producers’ associations, but also the wider public through different media. The representatives of the countries bordering the Baltic Sea, such as Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia, and also the Eastern partnership countries, such as the Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were invited to Agroforum. In 2014, China was invited as a special guest to Agroforum.
Agroforum is a good opportunity for a dialogue with the European Commission and international organisations, such as the FAO, the WTO and the OECD. The public is given a message of the problems treated and of their possible solutions. At Agroforum Balticum 2014, Mr. David P. Shark, Deputy Director General of the WTO, Mr. Vladimir Rakhmanin, Assistant Director-General for Europe and Central Asia of the FAO and Dr. Willi Schulz-Greve, Head of the Unit of Analysis of Trade and International Policies of DG Agri participated as keynote speakers.
Agroforum was focused at trade in agricultural products. To sum up, it was stressed that at the moment free and fair trade is an unattainable illusion which is still commonly striven for. To that end, we should make the most of all the exisiting relevant organisations and networks. Nowadays, regional and interregional agreements prevail. Research intensive high value added products and effective trade techniques are the future trends. It is important to find reciprocally useful solutions and not only proceed from the interest of one party. Harmonisation of veterinary and phytosanitary standards, which could already start during the programme of studies at the university, was also emphasized. It could ensure higher reliability of relevant controls and contribute to the prevention of the spread of cross-border diseases. Communication between trade partners was regarded as extremely important and Agroforum Balticum also serves this purpose. Carrying on the format of Agroforum was considered to be very important and the possible conference rotation to other countries around the Baltic Sea was also discussed. Several different subjects from the sustainability of agriculture to SPS measures and organic production were suggested for the next year conference. The ministers of agriculture of the Baltic Sea countries will take the decision about the main subject and the place to hold the conference by October 2014 at the latest.
Agroforum was attended by Mr. Jari Koskinen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, and Mr. Igor Shvaika, Minister of Agriculture of the Ukraine, who also had a bilateral meeting. Mr. Ivari Padar, Minister of Agriculture of Estonia, had bilateral meetings with Mr. David P. Shark, Deputy Director General of the WTO and Mr. Vladimir Rakhmanin, Assistant Director-General for Europe and Central Asia of the FAO, but also with Mr. Jari Koskinen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, and Mr. Igor Shvaika, Minister of Agriculture of the Ukraine. Mr. Rakhmanin also met the Ministers of Finland and the Ukraine.
Agroforum Balticum was attended by four Deputy Ministers: from Lithuania, Moldova, Belarus and Georgia.
Agroforum Balticum aroused the interest of several foreign embassies residing in Estonia. Agroforum was attended by Mrs. Heli Kanerva, Deputy Head of the Embassy of Finland, H.E. Mr. Neilas Tankevicius, Ambassador of Lithuania, H.E. Mr. Grzegorz M. Poznański, Ambassador of Poland, H.E. Mr. Anders Ljunggren, Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Mr. Victor Guzun, Ambassador of Moldova, and H.E.Mr. Qu Zhe, Ambassador of China.
As Agroforum takes place during the annual Rural Fair on the territory of the University of Life Sciences in Tartu, participants in Agroforum had an opportunity to visit one of the biggest and most popular Estonian fairs with many visitors and exhibitors.
Agroforum enabled participants to learn about rural enterprise at excursions to different areas (lake Peipsi and South Estonia).
The more detailed information is available at the following address: (http://agroforum.emu.ee/).