A socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of international conventions, congress, exhibitions, business, social and sporting, public, and cultural events.

The Roscongress Foundation is a socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of international conventions; exhibitions; and business, public, sporting, and cultural events. It was established in pursuance of a decision by the President of the Russian Federation.

The Foundation was established in 2007 with the aim of facilitating the development of Russia’s economic potential, promoting its national interests, and strengthening the country’s image. One of the roles of the Foundation is to comprehensively evaluate, analyse, and cover issues on the Russian and global economic agendas. It also offers administrative services, provides promotional support for business projects and attracting investment, and helps foster social entrepreneurship and charitable initiatives.

Each year, the Foundation’s events draw participants from 208 countries and territories, with more than 15,000 media representatives working on-site at Roscongress’ various venues. The Foundation benefits from analytical and professional expertise provided by 5000 people working in Russia and abroad. In addition, it works in close cooperation with 160 economic partners; industrialists’ and entrepreneurs’ unions; and financial, trade, and business associations from 75 countries worldwide.

The Roscongress Foundation has Telegram channels in Russian (t.me/Roscongress), English (t.me/RoscongressDirect), and Spanish (t.me/RoscongressEsp). Official website and Information and Analytical System of the Roscongress Foundation: roscongress.org.

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Food x Technology
4 June 2021
10:00—11:15
KEY CONCLUSIONS
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Money goes where businesses primarily want to develop. That is why we are seeing an optimization of expenditure on current activity, with an emphasis on digitalization, and on various economic methods which large companies are finding to be affordable. For now, I will honestly admit, I have not seen a great leap in development or noticed a particular desire among our colleagues when it comes to developing alternative food products — Andrey Zyuzin, General Director, EFKO Innovations.

Agriculture has traditionally been a rather conservative sector. For a long time, agriculture was based around traditional methods. However, it seems to me that a base effect in agriculture has now accumulated to the point that we will see some genuinely new, breakthrough technologies — Dmitry Konyaev, Chairman of the Board of Directors, URALCHEM.

Diversity is, by definition, the key to security and development. If we think about the long term, then traditional agriculture is extremely vulnerable to a whole range of serious challenges. The pandemic is one such example. <...> That’s why if you only have food growing in a field, you are by definition in a more vulnerable situation than if you are growing food in a container and at home. <...> Or at sea, for example — Dmitry Peskov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Digital and Technological Development.

ISSUES
The need for an individual diet

Once the human genome was decoded <...> we finally found out scientifically that we are diverse biological beings. That is why each one of us should ideally follow an individual diet — Andrey Zyuzin, General Director, EFKO Innovations.

Access to healthy food

We have approximately three billion people who still cannot afford a healthy diet. In addition, we have billions of overweight people. So, the facts are speaking for themselves. For us it is quite clear – our agri-food systems are broken — Laurent Thomas, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Unequal access to digital technology

The pandemic has revealed the divide that persists between those who have access and those who do not have access to technology. Digital technology dividends are not automatic, and not everyone can benefit equally — Laurent Thomas, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The impact of global challenges on people’s lives and the economy

Earth’s growing population, global climate change, the pandemic – all these are the kinds of challenges which have an impact on our day-to-day lives, and, I think, to the same extent, affect all sectors of the economy. And considerations as to how we intend to develop our industry are similarly subject to these factors — Mikhail Ivanov, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

Chemical fertilizers are poorly absorbed by crops

It is no secret that chemical fertilizers are rather poorly absorbed by crops. It’s exactly the same with people. If a person eats poor-quality food, it will simply clog up their organism and not provide the needed nutrients — Dmitry Konyaev, Chairman of the Board of Directors, URALCHEM.

Labour shortages in rural areas

My understanding is that rural areas are currently experiencing labour shortages — Dmitry Konyaev, Chairman of the Board of Directors, URALCHEM.

Insufficient venture investment to compete with the Western market

We don’t yet have enough venture investment to compete with the Western market on an equal footing — Andrey Zyuzin, General Director, EFKO Innovations.

A lack of high-quality products for export

I see the problem as coming from the other side – there is simply a lack of high-quality products that are investable, let alone bankable. There are simply no [projects] of this kind — Dmitry Peskov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Digital and Technological Development.

Insufficient use of IT in agriculture

Under the current level of IT penetration in agriculture, our small and micro-businesses will barely be able to develop or invest in the technologies which are currently lacking — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

A lack of B2B marketplaces in Russia

There are a great many B2C marketplaces in Russia, but effectively no B2B marketplaces — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

Job platforms are proving too costly for small and micro-businesses

We have a large number of electronic platforms offering people the chance to search for work, find work, and add job vacancies. However, there are no small or micro-businesses on these platforms, because the cost of using them is fairly high — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

Small and micro-businesses do not process large batches of goods

Small and micro-businesses do not process large batches of goods. No matter how hard we’ve tried, no matter how hard we’ve supported them, they do not join major chains and networks — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

A lack of attention given to technologies to improve land productivity

Technologies which could increase land productivity are being neglected. <...> These technologies can help increase crop growth and land productivity. Currently, around 25% of farmland around the world is of poor quality, and 44% of farmland is at the point of degradation — Natalya Popova, First Deputy General Director, Innopraktika.

SOLUTIONS
Holding a UN conference

The UN Secretary-General has convened the United Nations Food Systems Summit for September this year to launch the holistic redesign of the agri-food system — Laurent Thomas, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Attracting young people using new technology

We believe that new technologies, innovations are the accelerators we need to achieve our vision. Without progress on innovation and the sound application of new technologies, we will not be able to attract youth to the profession as an attractive domain for a better life. <...> Let me proceed on what type of technologies we have in mind. Most cutting-edge technologies could – and should – be applied in the food industries. <...> We are speaking of blockchain and robotization, new materials and 3D printing; we are speaking of ultra resolution satellite scanning of the earth’s surface, innovative energy saving, and of course, the whole spectrum of data processing — Laurent Thomas, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

We are currently seeing a generational change in rural areas. The older generation – characterized by traditional ways of working, seasonal work in the fields, and agriculturalists making decisions based on intuition (as if sailing with the wind) – is being replaced by youth. These are people who want to do things differently. And in order to get them to stay in rural areas, they need different tools for working in the agricultural sector — Dmitry Konyaev, Chairman of the Board of Directors, URALCHEM.

Technological development

Technological development helps drive development in equipment manufacturing, new production, new skills, and a new scientific and technological base. These are the niches which are important to us as the ministry responsible for formulating an industrial policy for the country. Naturally, we are referring to digitalization, and to applying the latest automation technologies. That includes smart mechanical engineering, and smart agriculture — Mikhail Ivanov, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

Establishing the Foodnet market

We must be ready for global changes. To these ends, a working group has been set up, and a concept for a Foodnet market has been developed. <...> This initiative – Foodnet and new food markets – will rapidly strengthen our standings. First of all, the very essence of the National Technology Initiative lies in fostering Russian leaders on new markets around the world. In this case, we are speaking about the food market. <...> The role of the government [on the Foodnet market – ed.] is a fairly simple one – we need to put the institutional infrastructure in place to enable all these high-tech commercial sectors in Russia to develop. We need to see large companies appear in Russia with an increasing market share. We need to enter the global market. The Foodnet road map will serve these ends as well, and has in effect already been drawn up. <...> That is what we are pursuing – the creation of the requisite institutional infrastructure — Mikhail Ivanov, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

Correctly feeding crops

A lot is currently being said about how we are living through the fourth agricultural revolution. <…> In this regard, we are faced with a very clear-cut question – what should be done to feed crops correctly? As producers of fertilizer, we largely give the same food to crops. And, in all likelihood, we are one of the first links in the chain. Of course, there are seeds, and there are plant-protection agents, which are more like medicine if they are the right products. We are about giving more food to crops. That’s because the kind of food we end up with is naturally largely down to what we feed the crops to begin with — Dmitry Konyaev, Chairman of the Board of Directors, URALCHEM.

Using drones to treat crops

I would say that our dream – my dream – is getting to the time when we will be able to attach a standard canister to a drone, which will then apply a precise amount of fertilizer to a particular crop. That’s because we will then be feeding crops correctly, and the crops will in turn fully consume the nutrients. As a result, people will benefit from having the best possible food — Dmitry Konyaev, Chairman of the Board of Directors, URALCHEM.

Developing the cultured meat market to address the climate issue

By all appearances, cultured meat will be a global inevitability. That’s because unless this happens, we will not address the climate issue in the next 30–40 years — Dmitry Peskov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Digital and Technological Development.

Fostering the venture market through using pension funds, encouraging major companies to invest, and supporting exports

There are a few overarching solutions. There is the pathway espoused by Anatoly Chubais, which is to free up pension funds and diversify the portfolio so that the amount of money on offer on the market sharply increases. That is undoubtedly pathway number one. Pathway number two involves encouraging large Russian corporations – including state corporations – to make genuinely substantial investments, which I believe we could do through employing a mechanism of investment in lieu of dividends. <...> When we have state companies paying 50% dividends, then you merely succeed in circulating public finances. Let’s allow them to do something else with that money other than shuffle it between accounts in the public system, and have them investing in startups. Then corporate venture funds <...> will have plenty of investment opportunities to chew on. <...> The third thing we could do, of course, is support exports — Dmitry Peskov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Digital and Technological Development.

Instilling entrepreneurial skills among college and university students

We simply need to correctly synchronize the agenda of our universities and colleges with those of our producers. <...> Our universities need to take another look at educational trajectories and make sure that our students are given entrepreneurial skills in one area or another, starting even from their first year. We need to foster new startups at universities. We must instil this culture, and give students the opportunity to develop their initiatives – including at the universities themselves — Alexander Mazhuga, Rector, Dmitry Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia.

Developing B2B platforms for small and micro-businesses

Over the next couple of years, we want to go from having an online storefront to a fully fledged marketplace. <...> And we believe that we can complete this chain in the next couple of years. We will be able to take any transaction right up to the point of electronic signature. We have all the tools needed to deploy our digital and financial services, and close a transaction at the point of payment. This will greatly benefit all our small and micro businesses — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

Launching a job- and employee-search platform

We have launched a platform in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. We have a large database of CVs and job vacancies pertaining exclusively to the agricultural sector. Currently, there are 10,000 vacancies listed on our platform, and anybody is free to look for work and upload their CV. And unlike other platforms, ours is free — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

Providing farmers access to a B2C platform

The only way a farmer has the opportunity to sell their products is if they can find buyers in the B2C segment. That is, they need to find a family that knows and understands how farm produce is made, and that has the chance to study all that information, visit the farm, and then buy their products — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.