The largest international “AgriFood Forum” in the Baltic States, which annually attracts more than 2,000 spectators from all over Europe, returns on November 15. This year, together with AgriFood Lithuania, the forum on the topic “Peace for Food” is organized by “Business at OECD”, the Confederation of Lithuanian Industrialists, “EuroChambers”, “EIT Food” and “Smart Agri Hubs”. As every year, the forum will be held in two languages, and invites to watch it free of charge. Please note that registration is required.
Focusing on the global crisis in the agricultural and food sector

The current situation in the world could be defined as a complex crisis that has a huge impact on the demand and supply of food. Climate change, the pandemic, and Russia’s unjustified military aggression have greatly overburdened food systems and created one of the worst food crises in history. The aggressor’s invasion of peaceful Ukraine severely disrupted global food markets and had negative consequences for global grain supplies in the short term. In the long term, disruptions in the natural gas and fertilizer markets and the production and diffusion of agricultural technologies will have a strong negative impact on producers. Therefore, solutions at the global level are necessary and the first steps have already been taken during the meeting of the OECD Ministers of Agriculture. According to the organizers of the forum, at the end of the forum additional recommendations will be made to the governments of the OECD countries that can help to solve the current challenges of the food system. These recommendations should also be taken into account at the high-level agrifood meeting in Istanbul, which will be held in 2023.

“The issue of the global agrifood sector crisis is particularly relevant in the Baltic countries, where in each economy of Baltic state the agrifood sector constitutes an important part of the GDP (more than 7 percent in Lithuania). Ukraine is an important import partner of the food sector companies of these countries, and the overall country’s inflation rate is one of the highest in the entire European Union. The stagnation of companies operating in the agrifood sector would have a serious impact on the growth of other sectors and the unemployment rate (especially in the regions). Therefore, this forum convenes national and international stakeholders to discuss developing an action plan (including the joint commitments of key players in the sector) to ensure access to affordable, quality food for everyone, without compromising sustainability commitments. These commitments will be based on healthier, fairer, more sustainable, and more resilient food systems,” said forum organizer director of AgriFood Lithuania Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė.

The forum features a wide range of topics and cross-sector leaders

“This forum is an excellent platform for different representatives of agriculture, food, and other related sectors and political leaders to talk and, most importantly, to hear each other. This is the key to strengthening the regions and the success of the agrifood sector, as well as providing residents with high-quality, affordable food, while finding advanced ways to achieve sustainability goals and promote the development of technology companies that create high-added value in Lithuania. This is especially relevant now, when the world’s food supply chains that have not yet recovered from the pandemic are going through an even greater shock due to the war in Ukraine and forcing the world to think about food as a matter of national security”, said Speaker of the Seimas, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, who will participate in the “AgriFood Forum”.

The topics of the Agrifood Forum include: providing the world with quality food, increasing innovation and digitalization, carbon farming and its prospects, food trends and consumer expectations, sustainable agrifood system, European digital innovation hubs, increasing resilience in the agrifood sector (energy, climate, skills) and biofood.

The CEO of EIT Food, the world’s largest agrifood sector community, will deliver the keynote address at the Agrifood Forum. Dr.  Andy Zynga, describing today’s situation in the agrifood sector, said: “The food system faces many challenges, but at the same time, it presents us with great opportunities to create real change that affects society. Climate change, the war started by Russia in Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic and problems of food loss throughout the supply chain have led to a crisis in the food system. In addition, there are significant challenges in attracting more young people to work in the sector and strengthening public confidence in the food system. We need to work together to find solutions to these challenges. Therefore, it is necessary to encourage innovation, because this, I believe, will allow us to create a healthy and sustainable food system for society and the planet.”

The Agrifood Forum will offer an unexploited countermeasure
This year, the European Commission has officially approved 136 digital innovation hubs, which have been awarded the title of European Digital Innovation Hub. Three consortia have received such an assessment in Lithuania, and in various European countries, as many as 35 of EDIHs specialize in the agrifood sector. According to the organizers of the “Agrifood Forum”, this discussion platform will offer an additional effective tool as an additional response to the global multi-layered agrifood crisis – the unification of EDIHs for a common goal.

It will be the first time that these largest centers of competence in Europe will gather in one place to discuss international and cross-sectoral cooperation and a common commitment to work together to create a strategic alliance and seek to define a common roadmap of priorities.

According to the initiators of the idea, this alliance will create a unique cooperation model and a common EDIH ecosystem characterized by cooperation, technology exchange, and investment. This will allow the market to offer the strongest possible solutions. It will expand the direction of activity of the actors who can have the greatest influence in the digital transformation from the national to the international level.