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Joint organized symposium by IAMO and IFPRI at 29th International Conference of Agricultural Economists (ICAE)

13 August 2015 - IAMO and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) organized a session entitled "Food Security and Food Self-sufficiency in Central Asia" as part of the 29th ICAE in Milan, Italy.

The landlocked Central Asian region comprises five post-Soviet countries characterized by great heterogeneity: energy endowments, market sizes, income levels, industrial- and agricultural structures differ a lot, as do infrastructures. The incomes of most populations in the region, largely rural, depend on agriculture that is highly dependent on irrigation water and prone to water scarcity. The region is considered to be one of those most vulnerable to climate change, projected through water scarcity and water supply variability. The overall objective of the organized symposium was to present and discuss research findings on issues of the Central Asian food security by providing both an overview of the potential diversity or similarity of current developments in the region, as well as the generalization of findings across several recent studies on what are likely to be the most promising policy domains for food security in Central Asia. The session combined different topics related to the implications of the transition to market economy, agriculture, and trade using the results of investigations at country and regional levels.

Dr. Kamiljon Akramov (IFPRI) gave a presentation on the linkages between agricultural productivity, structural transformation and food and nutrition security in Central Asia presentations. He pointed out that the structural transformation is a sustainable way to achieve food and nutrition security in the region, while investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure is necessary to raise productivity in agriculture.

The presentation was followed by Dr. Alisher Mirzabaev (Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany) on the impact of agricultural income shocks due to weather variability on the food security of the poor in Central Asia. He pointed at the poorer households are more vulnerable to the impacts of weather and climate shocks since their food security more strongly depends on their agricultural incomes. Yet, other household categories are also affected, even if to a lesser extent. Improving market access and creating opportunities for diversified crop portfolio as well as higher commercialization and availability of non-farm jobs can contribute to food security among rural farming households in the region.

Dr. Roman Mogilevskii (Institute of Public Policy & Administration, University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan) talked about the recent developments in agricultural and food trade in Central Asia. Although the agri-food products are getting less important in export revenue in the Central Asian countries, export have been largely concentrated on few crops such as cotton or wheat, while agri-food imports became more diversified with growing share of processed products. As highlighted from the presentation intra-regional wheat trade shifted from flour to grain due to the import-substitution policies and development of domestic milling sector. As pointed out it is expected that the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will further change the regional trade policy landscape.

Finally, Kamila Mukhamedkhanova (Center for Economic Research (CER), Uzbekistan) gave a presentation on the formulation of food security strategy towards 2030 in Uzbekistan. As highlighted, transformation of demographic pattern, expected shifts in food diets and per capita food consumption as well as climate change and related land and water resource scarcities can affect domestic food production. Ensuring food security, therefore, will require more complex approaches, policies and tools. In this respect, food security should be viewed as an integrated problem incorporating three key dimensions such as food availability, access to food, and balanced and high-quality nutrition. Food security strategy needs to be integrated into the broader framework of the country development strategy.