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Amidst the health emergency, 31 countries express broad support for IICA’s technical work to strengthen agriculture

They also expressed a strong commitment towards the Institute’s objectives during the virtual meeting of the Executive Committee of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), one of the governing bodies of the Institute.  

San Jose, 28 July 2020 (IICA). - The representatives of 31 countries expressed broad support for the work carried out by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). They also acknowledged the strategic nature of the agriculture sector and underscored the international organization’s capacity to implement rapid response programs to strengthen agrifood systems during the Covid-19 pandemic, in partnership with governments, the private sector and civil society organizations.

The representatives participated in the meeting of IICA’s Executive Committee, one of the governing bodies of the specialized agency for agricultural and rural development.

The Executive Committee, which meets annually and whose members are elected on a rotating basis, is made up of a third of IICA’s 34 member countries, all of which form part of the Inter-American System. For the first time in the history of IICA, which was founded in 1942, the Committee met virtually.

Michael Pintard, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources of The Bahamas, opened the session, which was presided over by  Carlos María Uriarte, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Uruguay, who was elected by the countries to serve as Chairperson, on the recommendation of Argentina.

“I express my solidarity to our brothers and sisters throughout the Americas, who are facing difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is at times like this that the importance of international cooperation becomes starkly evident. Therefore, this meeting of the Executive Committee of IICA affords a valuable opportunity to continue providing mutual support, for the benefit of the agriculture and rural sectors in our countries”, stated minister Uriarte.

Maximiliano Moreno, National Director of International Agrifood Relations at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Argentina, highlighted the quality of IICA’s technical cooperation services amidst the pandemic, and reiterated his country’s commitment to the Institute.

Also sitting on this year’s Executive Committee, in addition to Argentina and Uruguay, were The Bahamas, Bolivia, Costa Rica, the United States of America, Guyana, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay.

In light of the emergency situation and the great need for technical cooperation of countries throughout the hemisphere, representatives from virtually all IICA Member States, including Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, also requested to participate in the meeting, and expressed broad support for the work carried out by the Institute, which is continuously updated and modernized.

Osmar Benítez, Minister of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic and Chairperson of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA, IICA’s highest governing body); Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary General; and Cassio Luiselli, member of IICA’s Advisory Council for Food Security in the Americas, delivered video messages at the start of the Executive Committee meeting. Afterwards, the delegations were given an opportunity to speak.

“The United States remains committed to its partnership with IICA and appreciates Director General Manuel Otero’s forward-thinking approach in managing IICA, which offers valuable resources for building capacities as well as expanding markets and trade in the region”, remarked Wendell Dennis, Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We applaud IICA for continuing to collaborate by providing technical cooperation services, facilitating data and information, and promoting science-based policies and regulations to strengthen agricultural trade and markets. We appreciate IICA’s efforts to draw attention to the strategic importance of agriculture and food supply, especially during these challenging times”, he added.

The Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero, thanked the countries for their broad support and noted that, despite the quarantine measures implemented during the pandemic, IICA has succeeded in strengthening proposals and programs for technical cooperation and assistance, acknowledging the pivotal role played by agriculture, which has become even more evident during the pandemic.

“The current situation has, once again, prioritized agriculture as a strategic sector that is capable of providing rapid, necessary responses to support economic reactivation in our countries”, stated Otero.

“Despite the social isolation measures implemented in response to the current circumstances, we have drawn closer than ever to the countries, demonstrating our capacity to identify their needs and respond adequately to their challenges. The proposals we have developed, as well as the dialogue and partnerships we have established with the public and private sectors, have enabled us to work more closely with the countries”, he added, emphasizing IICA’s role as the strong institution that can assist in transforming agriculture, a sector in which countries of the Americas have tremendous advantages, and which is fundamental to economic reactivation.

The representatives of Argentina, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Mexico and the United States also highlighted IICA’s key role in supporting agrifood systems, increasing food security, fostering trade in agricultural goods, as well as assisting countries in overcoming the pandemic through effective policies.

“Within the current context, IICA’s work has become even more relevant. We appreciate IICA’s commitment to facilitating several meetings with governments, international organizations and private sector representatives to address food security challenges (...) and we recognize the important role the Institute plays in matters related to food trade and the health and well-being of all citizens, especially women, youth and the most vulnerable populations”, stated Marie-Noelle Desrochers, Director of Markets and Services for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

“Canada appreciates the analytical work that IICA has carried out in response to the pandemic. These tools will help enable us to make informed political decisions. Countries must continue making their quota payments to IICA, so that the Institute may continue to carry out its work. We have all benefited from IICA’s vital work before and during the pandemic; for this work to continue, IICA must receive the necessary resources”, added the representative of the Canadian government.

Colombia, in turn, cited several noteworthy IICA initiatives, such as the creation of the High-Level Advisory Council for Food Security in the Americas, comprised of former ministers, experts, and renowned professors who provide recommendations for addressing the sector’s issues within the short and medium term.

“In the fight against Covid-19, IICA has played a leading role in aligning the agricultural policies of countries in the Americas; this has bolstered prevention efforts within the agriculture sector. We greatly value and support this initiative, and consider that this resolution will be key to overcoming the pandemic, which is a joint struggle”, remarked Juan Gonzalo Botero, Deputy Minister of Agricultural Affairs of Colombia.

“Brazil reiterates its commitment to IICA. Amidst this pressing situation, we must commit to and participate in the search for solutions that can improve and increase the efficiency of our work, in order to generate better results for producers, who are our raison d’être. I am certain that we will emerge stronger from this pandemic, largely due to the work carried out by IICA, which is so valuable to countries in the Americas and the rest of the world”, stated Flávio Campestrin Betarello, Assistant Secretary for Trade and International Relations at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply of Brazil.

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Institutional Communication Division