Official opening ceremony of the International Green Week
With a rousing and at the same time thought-provoking dance performance, the Ukrainian dance company APACHE CREW - UKRAINE opened the official opening ceremony of the International Green Week (IGW) in the City Cube of Messe Berlin. "People want to meet, they want to come to Berlin, try new things and experience with all their senses. This is especially true in the challenging times we find ourselves in today. And this is especially true of the International Green Week," said Messe Berlin Managing Director Dirk Hoffmann in his address.
Messe Berlin is transforming its motto "Hosting the World" into "Hosting Ukraine" for the International Green Week. "This is our way of signaling as organizers of the leading trade fair for food, agriculture and horticulture: We stand by Ukraine," Hoffmann said. More than 1,400 exhibitors from 60 countries and 300 conferences await IGW guests - plenty of opportunities to learn new things and network.
Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey recalled her first visit to IGW in the early 1990s. Even then, she was fascinated by the many food stands, the international guests, and as a child, of course, by the animals and the flower hall, which is still her highlight today. "Many Berliners visit this International Green Week as the start of the year and we are pleased that it has a very special place in the international history of the fair over so many years," she said.
As Germany's most traditional trade fair with the most visitors and the world's largest consumer show for agriculture, food and horticulture, the IGW also has an important economic significance for the German capital, he said. "Every euro spent here at the fair and events triggers a purchasing power of six euros in Berlin, i.e. a six-fold increase in the amount. [...] It is a sign of the spirit of progress, of creativity and also the entrepreneurial courage that is shown here. Berlin is proud of its International Green Week," said Giffey.
In his speech, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, called the central themes of the fair, food security and climate protection, of immense importance for Europe. Against the backdrop of Russia's attack on Ukraine, he said, food security presents a multifaceted challenge. "We need to maintain open, rules-based trade relations with like-minded allies regarding Russian aggression," Janusz Wojciechowski said.
As a buyer of Ukrainian grain, he said, the EU supports supplies to developing countries, for example in Africa. At the same time, the country's own population is suffering from rising food prices, while farmers are struggling with the consequences of climate change, he said. The number of farms in the EU fell from 12 million to nine million between 2010 and 2020, he said. That means 800 fewer farms per day, he said. "The best way to protect our food and our environment is to secure and protect our farms," the EU commissioner said. The best way to do that, he said, is through strong agricultural policies. The EU is aiming for a transformation process that will make farms more resilient to climate change and protect the environment, among other things, he said. This requires an adequate budget that reflects the importance of the sector.
In his speech, Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture Mykola Solskyj spoke about his country's grain corridor to Europe, which is in danger every day. In January alone, only half the planned amount of grain could be delivered to the EU due to the Russian attacks. With its large agricultural areas, the country contributes significantly to food security in Europe and the world, he said. Climate change, he said, calls for new solutions. The minister expressed openness to a transformation of livestock and grain farming. He sees great potential in the renewable energy sector in particular. "We are part of the civilized world and we need victory and peace. We ask to support us," he said.
Joachim Rukwied, president of the German Farmers' Association (DBV), referred directly to the previous speaker. Putin's war against Ukraine, he said, showed that food security cannot be taken for granted. "Future agricultural policy must have this issue at its nucleus. Because only satiated people provide stability," he said. Animal welfare and combating climate change should not only be supported by his association, but also further developed and shaped. "But further development must bring future prospects for our farming families, especially for our younger generation," he said. "They want to actively contribute to climate protection. For this, we need the company of society and politics."
He criticized that the current proposals on animal husbandry would lead to a reduction. Reducing pesticides does not work through bans, he said, but rather the development of pest-resistant varieties. He described the importance of the IGW as a showcase for farmers with the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) as an "agricultural policy Davos" in which safe food must also be debated internationally.
Dr. Christian von Boetticher, chairman of the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries, praised the IGW as a consumer fair where guests can see for themselves the innovations of his industry. "One of the biggest challenges currently facing the food industry and the entire German SME sector is energy supply. Reliability and affordability of supply are key for SMEs and production in Germany," he said. To this end, he expects viable concepts from the government.
Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir underlined the long partnership between Germany and Ukraine in the agricultural and food sector. With the German-Ukrainian Agricultural Committee, bilateral cooperation projects and the German-Ukrainian Agricultural Policy Dialogue, the two countries are working together successfully, he said. "I would like to assure you: we will definitely continue the project cooperation - especially now in this time. Because not only now in the war, but also in the reconstruction of agricultural structures, the projects will play an important role," he said.
Extensive support for Ukrainian farmers ensures that they can continue to work, he added. Since food policy is always also peace and security policy, the government wants to continue to look at all crises with the same intensity, he said. Nutritional trends toward less meat consumption are opening up new markets for farmers. Visitors to the IGW can get an idea of this.