On 18–19 April 2013, an international discussion forum Agroforum Balticum – Food and Agricultural Potential of the European Region, organised by the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Saint Petersburg State Agrarian University in cooperation with the Estonian Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO, took place in Tartu, Estonia.
The objectives of Agroforum were the following:
- To address central issues of strategic development in the Baltic-Nordic region, such as the development of human resources, economic growth and labour markets at national and regional level, growth strategies based on regional challenges and potentials, current situation;
- To focus public attention on the most important problems of the sector of agriculture in order to improve the awareness of the public of the future challenges for agriculture and rural areas and of the ways to meet the objectives set;
- To enhance cooperation in the region between policy makers, scientists and sector representatives in order to promote resource efficiency in view of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth of agriculture and rural areas in line with the Europe 2020 strategy.
Agroforum was targeted at decision makers on political, administrative, research and producers’associations level, i.e. ministers of agriculture and other higher state public servants, rectors of agricultural universities, representatives of primary producers, food processors and producers’ associations, but also the wider public through different media. Agroforum involved the countries bordering the Baltic Sea, such as Finland, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia, and also the Eastern partnership countries, such as the Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Agroforum was planned with a view to give signals to international organisations and particularly to the FAO, the WTO and the OECD and to the countries involved in the EU Eastern Partnership and the Baltic Sea Cooperation on the policy options outlined and on the importance to contribute and take measures to support producers, to address environmental challenges, increased market volatility and slowdown in productivity as well as on how to reinforce the instruments to better manage risks and respond to crisis situations, how to harness the diverse potential of rural areas and thus contribute to inclusive growth and cohesion. Stress was also laid on the strategic importance of the policy of food security, the environment and territorial balance in order to maintain sustainable agriculture, to address the important cross-border issues and to reinforce solidarity among different countries. The general public was given a message of the problems dealt with and of the possible solutions to those problems.
The opening plenary included welcome speeches by Mr. Helir-Valdor Seeder, Minister of Agriculture of Estonia, and by Prof. Mait Klaassen, Rector of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, but also keynote speeches by Mr. Ren Wang, Assistant Director-General of the FAO, Mrs. Carmel Cahill, Senior Counsellor for the Trade and Agriculture Directorate of the OECD and Mrs. Loretta Dormal-Marino, Deputy Director-General for International Affairs at the DG AGRI as well as speeches by the representatives of the participating countries, ministers, officials and producers. The keynote speeches are available on the website of the Estonian University of Life Sciences (http://agroforum.emu.ee/).
Agroforum took place during the annual rural fair on the campus of the Estonian University of Life Sciences in Tartu so that the participants had an opportunity to visit one of the biggest and most popular Estonian fairs attracting a big number of visitors and exhibitors.
Agroforum provided an opportunity to participate in different optional visits to different processing plants, but also in optional acquaintance tours in Tartu and at the University of Life Sciences.
Agroforum Balticum will take place again next year.