On the eve of their conference at IICA, ministers of agriculture of the Americas stress that collective action is crucial to combat food insecurity and tackle the climate crisis
San José, October 2, 2023 (IICA). Ministers of agriculture in the Americas have emphasized that collective action is essential to guarantee food security and strengthen the role of agriculture in the development of countries in the region, in a context of climate change and economic crisis.
They expect the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, which will be held this week in San José, Costa Rica, to be a great opportunity to step up joint actions aimed at boosting sustainability, and to share knowledge and positive experiences.
The conference of ministers from the hemisphere will be taking place at the Headquarters of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) from October 3 to 5. Other participants will include other high-level officials from governments and international agencies, world-renowned academics, and representatives of the production and processing sectors.
The presidents of Guyana, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, and Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, are to speak at the opening ceremony.
The opening session will also include messages from Marian Almheiri, the Minister of the Environment of the United Arab Emirates, the country that will be hosting the COP 28 this year; Terry Branstad, the President of the World Food Prize Foundation (WFPF); the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica, Víctor Carvajal; and the host of the meeting, IICA Director General Manuel Otero.
The slogan for the event is “A Hemispheric Partnership for Food Security and Sustainable Development,” and the ministers said it was of crucial importance to promote strategic partnerships between the public and private sectors, and to boost technical cooperation, to build more resilient and productive agriculture.
Fernando Mattos, Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries of Uruguay, and chair of the Southern Agricultural Council (CAS), emphasized the importance of collective action by the countries and the solutions that science and technology can provide to tackle the water crisis.
“Today we face growing climate challenges that pose a threat to the planet’s water supplies. Production systems must generate much stronger and more powerful adaptation and resilience systems,” Mattos remarked.
The Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock of Honduras, Laura Suazo, said, “It’s vital we don’t try to tackle these challenges alone, but rather work together to find effective solutions and learn from countries that develop successful practices. We must collaborate closely with the different stakeholders to achieve a significant impact on the agrifood sector.”
The Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago, Avinash Singh, believed the capacities and knowledge developed in the countries of the hemisphere were more useful collectively than separately, to address common challenges related to food security. “Partnerships are needed at the national, regional and global levels,” he argued. “IICA is a key player in the promotion of collective action, which in turn is central to the economic development of a region so rich in natural resources and biodiversity.”
Addressing common challenges
Some of the topics that will be discussed at the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture 2023 will be social inclusion and family farming, climate change mitigation and adaptation, the water crisis, the incorporation of digital technology, the financing of science and research applied to agriculture, and international trade.
The Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA), IICA’s highest governing body, will also be meeting during the conference. The IABA is composed of the 34 Member States of the agency of the Inter-American System specializing in agriculture and rural development.
Costa Rica’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Víctor Carvajal, emphasized the value of the conference as a space for sharing knowledge and experiences to promote the sustainability of agriculture in the hemisphere in the face of enormous global environmental, climate and food security challenges.
“The meeting will be used to showcase initiatives such as Costa Rica’s NAMA sugarcane project, a positive example of sustainable innovation in the agriculture sector,” he explained. The goal of this initiative, a world first, is to move towards carbon neutrality and be carbon positive in the medium term.
Zulfikar Mustapha, the minister from Guyana, highlighted IICA’s call to strengthen the scope of a hemispheric partnership for food security and environmental sustainability.
“Let’s use this partnership to speak with a single voice as a region, and give it a strategic dimension, creating networks and platforms that in practice strengthen our institutions.”
The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food of Guatemala, Édgar De León, was also convinced that IICA’s proposed hemispheric partnership would boost environmental sustainability and food security in the hemisphere.
He urged his counterparts to approach the partnership “from a political standpoint, acting together as a region, and from a strategic standpoint, creating networks for work designed to strengthen us and provide support to sectors whose mission is to combat food insecurity.
The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of El Salvador, and President pro tempore of the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC), Óscar Enrique Guardado Calderón, referred to the water crisis in the region. The conference will also focus on the implementation of IICA’s Hemispheric Water and Agriculture Initiative –presented last July–, through which agriculture will contribute to addressing this serious situation.
“It’s imperative that the region’s agricultural agenda include water resources management and the formulation of innovative policies that facilitate the adoption of technologies for comprehensive water management for agriculture and the population in general,” he said.
IICA Director General Manuel Otero believed no country could tackle the multidimensional crisis that the planet is experiencing in isolation, and technical cooperation was a key tool.
“The challenges are shared, and we must tackle them at the supranational level, introducing reforms to technical cooperation. The presence of our ministers of agriculture is crucial to achieve these objectives,” he explained.
Institutional Communication Division.