San José, Costa Rica. April 13, 2012 (IICA). The relevance of family agriculture and the urgency of promoting more sustainable forms of production are among the topics being discussed at the virtual congress being led by the Ministry of Agricultural development of Brazil (MDA) and IICA, in preparation for the global conference Rio+20.
This digital encounter began in April and was dubbed International Virtual Congress on Green Economy and Socio-productive Inclusion: the Role of Family Agriculture.. The MDA and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), through the platform www.congressorio20.org.br, are expecting to explore the positions of web users worldwide on the topic of sustainable development, food security, adaptation to climate change, management of rural territories and institutional modernization, among other challenges facing agriculture today.
The different viewpoints will be reflected in a technical report and a specialized review to be circulated among the authorities and experts from around the world who will gather at Rio+20, the name given to the next United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro from June 20-22, 2012.
According to Gilberto Jose Spier Vargas, Minister of Agricultural Development of Brazil, family agriculture in that country has played a strategic role in economic and social development, since, in addition to being an instrument for combating rural poverty, it promotes the production of healthy food throughout the country.
For his part, Dr. Victor M. Villalobos, Director General of IICA, noted that a new type of agriculture was required, since the current agriculture had been adversely affected by demographic growth, over-exploitation of natural resources and by excessive use of agrochemicals, among other factors. This situation has provoked a reduction in the quantity and quality of available food.
This negative trend has resulted in climate change, which has had a direct impact on agricultural activity, added Villalobos.
Minister Vargas and the IICA Director General, via video available in Portuguese and Spanish at (www.congressorio20.org.br/sitio/abertura), invited users around the world to participate in the virtual conference.
In the opinion of the Minister, family agriculture requires State policies in order to achieve social, environmental, economic and democratic sustainability. In each of these areas, the following is required:
• An economic focus: credit and support for marketing products, as well as to protect the rights of women and youth
• A social focus: to facilitate access for persons in the rural areas to public health and educational services, among other amenities
• A democratic focus: the State must introduce a process of development where the citizen is the beneficiary of public policies
• An environmental focus: greater visibility for the contribution of the sector.
In relation to this latter point, the Minister added “If we take into account the reality of the rural sector in Brazil, the small family agricultural units are far more concerned with environmental sustainability than large farms that are devoted to export”.
In his invitation to the forum, the Director General of IICA pointed out that the new type of agriculture was being called upon to be the basis of food security for future generations, but that to do this, the ability to transform natural resources into food must be increased.
“Production systems must be improved, through technological innovation or the use of proven techniques, coupled with knowledge of the culture of the region, as well as the knowledge that exists among farmers”, explained Villalobos.
The virtual conference commenced with the showing of two other videos to initiate the discussions: “Socio-productive Inclusion”, by the expert, Taina Barcelar, of the Federal University of Pernambuco; and “Green Economy”, by the consultant in biotechnology and agricultural innovation, Eduardo Trigo.
Additionally, during the course of April, three additional topics will be dealt with: sustainable rural development, natural resources and food sovereignty, as well as sustainable production and consumption.
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