By Dmitry Maksimychev
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 19 2019 – Food security holds a special place among Russia’s priorities in its efforts to achieve sustainable development globally. We believe that this task, which is reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 1, requires a comprehensive and multidimensional approach.
First of all, we believe that it has to be addressed at the level of supplying to the world enough high-quality food to stabilize international markets and make it more accessible and affordable for a maximum number of people. To that end, over the last twenty years, Russia has been steadily and consistently increasing its own production and export of food – grain, cereals, pulses, meats, poultry, oils, milk and dairy products, etc. Russia has become one of the world’s largest exporters of food. As of today, its food export is worth US$26 billion, and by 2024, it is expected to reach US$45 billion.
What is important is that under Russian law, all foods produced in Russia are GMO-free, which makes them more sustainable. The production of organic foods also grows continuously to meet the ever-growing demand of the international markets.
At the same time, the Zero Hunger goal must be addressed as a matter of urgency for those countries that are food insecure (for different reasons), because people need food every day to survive, and in the XXI century no humans should die because of starvation or malnutrition. Apart from our bilateral efforts in that area, since 2001, Russia has embarked upon a long-term strategic partnership with the United Nations system, primarily, the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) that have established themselves as effective and reliable partners.
In 2018-2019, Russia has contributed around US$80 million for the implementation of food aid projects by the above agencies. Apart from direct food aid, we also fund projects aimed at ensuring long-term solutions to sustainability of agriculture, post-conflict rehabilitation of the agricultural sector, and development of school feeding systems.
Since 2003, Russia’s total regular voluntary contributions to WFP have reached US$400 million. In 2019 alone, Russia has contributed to WFP US$36.9 million.
In 2010, Russia in partnership with WFP launched the first pilot school feeding project in Armenia. Since then, its positive results were replicated and scaled up in the Middle East (Jordan, Tunisia, and Morocco) and in Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan). In total, US$95.1 million have been allocated for this work for 2010-2023. We pay so much attention to school feeding because our experience shows that this type of interventions is absolutely unique in addressing not only educational and nutritional problems but a wide range of social and economic development issues.
As an important input into WFP’s humanitarian operations, Russia donated 355 KAMAZ trucks (KAMAZ is among the largest and best producers of trucks in Russia) together with the necessary parts, equipment, technical support and training for the drivers and mechanics. 258 trucks were transferred in 2011 and 97 – in 2019. The Russian trucks are being effectively used in key WFP operations in Africa and Afghanistan.
What makes the Russian support to WFP special is the regularity and predictability of our voluntary contributions. As of now, they consist of two annual payments – US$20 million as regular contribution, and US$10 million as additional funding. This year, Kenya became one of the recipients of such an additional contribution (US$1million). Starting from 2020, the additional contribution will double to reach US$20 million annually with US$10 million being reserved exclusively for Africa. It is the first time that Russia assigns a geographic priority for its voluntary contribution to WFP.