World's largest agricultural fair begins in Berlin

16th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

One focus of the fair will be on industrial production methods, a subject that has received recent attention in Germany, where a debate is raging over the labeling of fresh milk.

Berlin -- Berlin becomes briefly pastoral this week, as the world's largest agricultural fair begins on Friday.

Alongside cows, pigs and tractors, 1,600 exhibitors from more than 50 countries will converge in Berlin's exhibition centre for the 74th annual Green Week from January 16-25.

As many as 400,000 visitors are expected to view more than 100,000 culinary specialities from around the world, spread across eight kilometers of exhibition space.

The Netherlands, this year's partner country, will receive a special focus, while newcomer Kyrgyzstan is exhibiting alongside Green Week veterans such as Italy's wine, cheese and olive oil producers.

As in previous years, Germany's federal states will use a large section of the fair to present regional specialities, from Bavarian beer to Berlin's famous curried sausage.

Alongside the exhibition stands, a range of seminars and conferences are drawing politicians, as well as food and agriculture specialists, from around the world.

One of the most anticipated guests is Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is using the occasion to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Russia's presence has become a regular feature at the Green Week in recent years.

In 2008, Russian delegates at the fair bought farming equipment including tractors, greenhouses and animal pens to the tune of 330 million euros.

In light of the current economic climate, this year's Green Week will be monitored as an indicator for investment and spending trends in the coming months.

Around 30 agriculture ministers are expected from Europe and the rest of the world, including Russia's Alexej Gordejev, China's Vice Minister of Agriculture Chen Xiao Hua, India's Sharad Pawar, Tefera Deribew of Ethiopia and Brazil's former Minister of Agriculture Roberto Rodrigues.

EU Commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel joins the group, who are holding an international conference of agricultural ministers during the Green Week.

For the tenth year running, the fair will also include a replica farm, at which visitors can watch 20 cows being milked.

A focus of the fair will be on industrial production methods, a subject that has received recent media attention in Germany, where a debate is raging over the labeling of fresh milk.

Helen Maguire/DPA/Expatica

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