14 June 2024

BRICS’ Host Country Venturing into Sustainable Energy for Food System

Maxim Markovich, director of the Department of International Cooperation and the Export Development of Agro-Industrial Products of the Russian Ministry of Agriculture commenced the first meeting of the BRICS Working Group on Agriculture with the comment, “Russia is interested in further strengthening cooperation with BRICS countries. We hope that the high level of trust between our countries will decisively contribute to the development of relations in the agricultural sector. Russia is ready to make every effort for this.” 

In the Russian chairship of BRICS, one of the primary priorities includes sustainable development and the growth of the agricultural sector in the global South food systems.

COP 28, which saw an active participation of the youth through BRICS YEA, stressed on the fact that any path to fully achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement must include agriculture and food systems.

Following this priority, the goals include ensuring food security, developing mutual trade and ensuring sustainable agricultural production. A recent study done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) talks about the importance of addressing the ‘tri-planetary emergency,’ that is climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pollution.

The role of energy in this emergency is immense and cannot be overlooked as greenhouse gas emissions contribute up to 70% to air pollution. But it also forms a chance for change in a positive way. Currently, state and non-state actors are coming up with policies that would enable the transition from the use of fossil resources to renewable energy sources which not only assist in the fight against climate change but also lead to the opening of development opportunities that are safe and sustainable.

The initiatives by BRICS nations could be regarded as the next step towards further improvement to tackle these issues effectively. The BRICS countries have been seen to take on leadership roles in promoting cooperation in green energy and related policies because of their large footprint in the spread and issuance of energy policies. One such nation making sprints in this direction is Russia.

A food system can be defined as all the procedures and infrastructures that are involved in feeding a population from growth to harvest, processing, packaging, transport, marketing, consumption, distribution, as well as disposal of food and food-related items. It is a combination of the inputs required and the outputs generated at each step of the food cycle, from production to consumption. Food systems operate within social, political, economic, technological, and environmental contexts, and require human resources for labour, research, and education.

Russia is one of the largest producers of food products like grain, oil seed as well and meat, and has been actively pursuing smart agriculture characterised by sustainable practices to evolve the food systems to prevent food wastage, and the presence of excessive pollutants and tackle climate change. A few such practices include circular agriculture which involves recycling organic waste and using it as fertiliser to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, precision agriculture techniques are being utilised to optimise crop fields and reduce resource wastage accompanied by biofuels and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) developed through next-generation sequencing and advanced biotechnology.

Major investments and state-of-the-art technological innovations are not just limited to biotechnology but are extended to unmanned aerial vehicles, sensor networks, swarm robotics and artificial intelligence.

Another exceptional innovation is recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) as well as vertical farming. Both use closed-loop systems to recycle and reuse natural resources like water and nutrients, which in addition to efficiency allow for high-density production in controlled environments. One striking similarity is that RAS farms stack fish tanks vertically while vertical farms grow plantations in different tiers. This practice mainly minimises chemical runoff, and land usage and finally reduces the carbon footprint of the entire process.

The high scalability of these systems allows perennial production independent of weather conditions allowing agriculture to be a stable as well as reliable livelihood and ensure food security for all. The optimisation of supply chains, through such initiatives, has been correlated with the concentration of production in the areas that have proved to be most favourable in terms of their soil, climate conditions and location.

Notwithstanding these innovations, Russia is actively exploring modern renewable energy sources as it has immense potential for bioenergy production from biomass, agricultural waste and crop residue, to sustainably generate heat and electricity, as is used for the solar and wind energy farms have been successful in areas of high solar irradiance and coastal areas with very strong winds blowing respectively. Geothermal energy and hydrogen production are highly efficient and resourceful opportunities for the nation to quantify and include as the norm in the food systems, especially for a clean energy carrier for transportation, industrial applications and maintaining temperatures of storage units. Food systems remain efficient when sustainable production is coupled with the reduction of waste generated and sustainable waste management.

The BRICS countries have taken significant steps to reduce food waste through various initiatives and strategies like redistribution of unsold or uneaten foods for animal feed, and campaigning for the use of advanced software tracking food waste. Additionally, BRICS has emphasised the importance of reducing loss and waste across food systems, enhancing agricultural research and sharing food security data to promote best practices.

The multifaceted efforts aim to address challenges and implement concrete measures for making food systems sustainable, and combat food wastage effectively which in turn would have an immensely positive impact on the climate. The global youth of BRICS Young Energy Agency reaffirmed at the COP Summit the urgency to adapt and transform agriculture and food systems in order to respond to the imperatives of climate change. The exchange of research, and data, brainstorming ideas, and sharing successful strategies reiterate the importance of multilateral institutions such as the BRICS YEA for leading the world into a sustainable future, for all through the efforts of all.

Author: Somya Maan, The Geostrata

Share news

Sustainable Energy Food System