During the Director General of IICA’s visit to Buenos Aires for discussions with the Government of Argentina, both parties stressed the value of science and technology for transforming agri-food systems
San Jose, 9 December 2021 (IICA). The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Santiago Cafiero, and the Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Manuel Otero, agreed on the need for science-based decisions to transform agri-food systems, and the fact that innovative technologies are an essential tool for developing more productive and sustainable agriculture.
Otero met with Cafiero during his official mission to Buenos Aires, where he arrived following visits to Brazil and Uruguay for meetings with the ministries of agriculture of the two countries to study technical cooperation projects.
During their meeting, Cafiero and Otero emphasized that Argentina, as a major food producer, has a particularly important stock of agricultural technology and knowhow that is available to international partners and is already being shared with other countries in the region.
Argentina’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship applauded IICA for its role in serving as a bridge for the transfer of his country’s technical capital to Central American and Caribbean nations seeking to develop their agricultural production, heavily dependent as they currently are on food imports.
Argentina and IICA are partners in a joint technical assistance program aimed at improving the productive capacity of the Caribbean countries and strengthening their food and nutritional security. This South-South and Triangular Cooperation initiative was established by means of a memorandum of understanding signed last April between Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, and IICA.
During his meeting with Cafeiro, Otero commended the Argentine government for facilitating the successful efforts of the countries of the Americas to reach a consensus prior to the United Nations Food Systems Summit, which took place last September. The continent’s participation in the global conference was based on a document containing sixteen messages¾the text of which was coordinated by IICA¾that underscored the important role that agriculture should play in helping to solve the problems facing humankind. Otero also stressed that the policies adopted must be science-based, and that agricultural producers must be properly represented in the debate on the transformation of agri-food systems.
During the discussions, IICA’s Director General also pointed up the work of Argentina’s Foreign Ministry¾through the White Helmets, its humanitarian assistance agency body ¾and the Institute to help Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean country that faced an emergency this year due to the impact of the eruptions of the La Soufrière volcano. The White Helmets coordinated the shipment and delivery of a significant quantity of donated seeds obtained by IICA in Chile and Argentina, to enable the island state’s farmers to begin operations again following the severe damage caused by volcanic ash.
Several IICA colleagues accompanied Otero during the meeting: the Special Advisor to the General Directorate, Jorge Werthein; the IICA Representative in Argentina and Coordinator of the Southern Region, Caio Rocha; and IICA Argentina’s Special Advisor for Institutional Relations, Ignacio Hernaiz.
Meeting with senior UBA and INTA officials
Otero also met with the Chancellor of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Alberto Barbieri, and the President of the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA), Susana Mirassou.
The UBA, an important center of learning renowned throughout Latin America and across the globe, is Argentina’s largest national public university and has just celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding. Other university officials who took part in Otero’s meeting with Chancellor Barbieri included the deans of the Faculty of Agronomy, Marcela Gally, and the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Alejo Pérez Carrera, and the Undersecretary for International Affairs, Patricio Conejero.
IICA and the UBA have a longstanding relationship. One of the academic institutions within the UBA’s Faculty of Agronomy, the Agricultural Plant Physiology and Ecology Research Institute (IFEVA), is a member of the “IICA Chairs” Program, in recognition of its contributions in the fields of scientific knowledge, the resolution of agronomic problems, and the sustainable use of natural resources.
During his meeting with Barbieri, Otero explained that IICA wished to engage in “a more intense dialogue with the University of Buenos Aires so we can imagine the future of agriculture together.” Chancellor Barbieri agreed on the importance of promoting further collaboration between the two institutions¾especially given the UBA’s recognized research capabilities on agribusiness issues¾and proposed setting up a joint working group to design projects aimed at training professionals in agricultural subjects in Argentina, with a regional projection.
At the INTA, a capacity building institution that has been supporting the Argentine agribusiness sector since 1956, Otero emphasized the historical relationship with IICA, which takes every opportunity to highlight the value of national agricultural research institutes of excellence in all international and regional forums.
The President of the INTA gave details of the projects that her institution is implementing on behalf of more sustainable agriculture in a global context of climate change, such as the National Plan for the Management of Forests with Integrated Livestock Farming (MGBI), which fosters soil carbon sequestration.
The INTA is one of the Argentine government institutions that worked with IICA specialists to design a technical assistance project for Caribbean countries that launched this year, aimed at boosting the productive capacity of the agricultural sector and improving rural life among the island states of the Caribbean region.
Institutional Communication Division