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Buenos Aires: Spotlight on Agriculture in the Americas

Buenos Aires: Spotlight on Agriculture in the Americas

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Tue Sep 24, 2013

by Dr. Victor M.
Villalobos
Director General of IICA

Following the gracious invitation from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Farming and Fisheries, as well as support from a number of agencies of the government of President Cristina Fernandez, the Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas 2013 will be held in Argentina from September 24-27. The theme of the meeting, to be attended by representatives of most of IICA’s 34 member countries, is “Water to feed the land.”{{more}}

The ministerial meetings, held every two years, provide a forum for frank and open dialogue among those responsible for implementing public policies aimed at promoting agricultural development and rural well-being; afford the ministers an opportunity to compare the experience of their countries with that of others, which, although different from each other, share common problems; and are useful for disseminating knowledge and establishing alliances.

Whereas the discussions of the ministers will focus on the management of water for agriculture, the main purpose of this year’s meeting is the formulation of a hemispheric agenda for work on that topic, one which will make it possible to coordinate joint actions and complement the efforts of each country. This hemispheric agenda must provide solutions to a very complex problem: how to ensure the efficient and sustainable use of an increasingly scarce natural resource in agriculture.

The solutions the ministers will propose, with support from IICA, must address the development of an effective institutional framework in which the voice of farmers will be heard. For this to happen, it is essential that the ministers of agriculture be empowered to serve as interlocutors with both farmers and other sectors.

They must also propose solutions calling for innovations that will make the use of water more efficient. In other words, productivity should be measured not only in terms of tons produced per hectare, but also of tons produced per liter of water consumed.

The food security of millions of persons in the hemisphere depends to a large extent on there being enough water for agriculture. Efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change on agriculture and to adapt the sector to current and likely effects of this phenomenon are fundamental to achieving this goal, especially considering the impacts that variations in climate are already having on the sector, such as extended periods of drought or severe flooding.

On this occasion, the ministers will also meet as the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA), IICA’s highest governing body, to define the policies, objectives and strategies that the Institute will implement in coming years to support the countries through the provision of international, multilateral technical cooperation.

The Institute has always been proud to help in the organization of the Meeting of Ministers, and we wish to thank the Government of the Republic of Argentina for giving us one more opportunity to serve our Member States.

As Director General of IICA, it is my hope that this meeting will be a great success, thanks to the consensus reached by the ministers. Likewise, I wish to reiterate our commitment to fulfill the mandates they entrust to us.

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