IFPA International Conference kicks off with renewed calls for rebuilding a better intra-OIC agri-food system

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On July 27 2021, International Islamic Food Processing Association (“IFPA”) under the Islamic Organisation for Food Security (“IOFS”) holds an international virtual conference “Intra-OIC Agri-Food Opportunities and Challenges” which integrated about 70 participants. The acute themes from expert speakers were developing effective mechanisms to promote access to Islamic finance and investments for markets of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (“OIC”) in the agri-food sector, establishing strategic logistic centres and trade corridor, distributing and promoting agri-food products and championing top companies for intra-OIC agri-food trade and exports.

The opening ceremony and first session chaired by Ms. Elvira Berdauletova, Head of PR and Communication of IFPA, was inaugurated with keynote speech from Director General of IOFS H.E. Yerlan Baidaulet who remarked that “today agriculture and food security occupy the centre stage in the development strategies of nations. Mutual intra-OIC cooperation in this important sector could play a vital role in the agri-food sector development and also ensure food security in OIC countries.

Other highlights during the first part of the conference included a discussion on Bangladesh’s agri-food exports/imports in OIC/IOFS markets by Mr. Jashim Uddin, President of Bangladesh Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry; dynamics and opportunities of Dubai’s agri-food trade within OIC markets was widely presented by the Economic Researcher of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr. Nizami Imamverdiev; Mr. Aibek Sagynayev, Director of the Project Development Department of QazTrade spoke about the trade indicators between Kazakhstan and OIC, while Mr. Saken Olzhabayev, Deputy Director of Investment and Marketing Department of Kazakh Invest discussed  about collaboration opportunity with IFPA in agri-food investment projects.

The second session was moderated by the Senior Manager of Marketing of IFPA, Ms. Aighanym Pakhrutdinova, which put focus on utilising Islamic financial instruments in the agri-food sector including a presentation delivered by Mr. Zhaksylyk Zhumanov, Director of “Al Hilal Islamic Bank” in Kazakhstan, along with some other key areas of discussion which were presented by four speakers from IFPA t which included IFPA’s role in connecting agri-tech with Islamic fin-tech (as discussed by the Head of Administration, Mr. Meirambek Issabekov); Islamic financial tools such as Sukuk for agri-food investment projects (as discussed by Mr. Berik Kaliyev, Head of International Partnerships), Islamic trade financing structures applicable for exports/imports (as discussed by Mr. Darkhan Issin, Head of Accounts and Finance); and the relevance of Islamic insurance (Takaful) models to agri-food industry (as discussed by Ms. Gulsum Kenenbayeva, Head of International Memberships) .

The closing session saw a keynote address by the Director General and CEO of IFPA, H.E. Sheikh Bilal Khan, who mentioned that “within the OIC 57 countries with their combined geographic and economic diversity, IFPA is ready to consolidate the efforts to enable significant growth of food exports, building champion companies from OIC across key essential food sub-sectors and provide a single platform for connecting and facilitating intra-OIC agri-food trade and investment”. H.E. Sheikh Bilal Khan shared recommendations as special outcomes of the conference by highlighting that IFPA intends to enable technology platforms for OIC food trade and development based on blockchain and other innovative technologies which will allow importers, exporters and other entities within the supply chain across the OIC agri-food markets to directly liaise with each other with the ability to track and trace all the necessary data in real time; promote increased use of latest agri-tech and fin-tech solutions; establish key OIC food value chain hubs and identify intra-OIC potential partnerships and investment opportunities.

You can watch the video of the conference on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5VbWtIsqxA