The Ministers of Agriculture of the Southern Agricultural Council (CAS) member countries endorsed the convening of a meeting of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA) in October. IICA committed to support the efforts of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in the area of associativity and to assist in the production and territorial development of Chile’s Araucanía region.
San Jose, 29 May 2019 (IICA). – Manuel Otero, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), attended a Southern Agricultural Council (CAS) meeting in Santiago de Chile, where he received the backing of the Ministers of Agriculture of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, to hold a meeting of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA) this October, in Costa Rica.
The IABA, which is made up of the 34 Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, is IICA’s supreme governing body and holds regular meetings every two years.
In his address to Luis Miguel Etchevehere, Argentina’s Secretary of Agroindustry; Tereza Cristina Corrêa da Costa Días, Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply; Antonio Walker, Chile’s Minister of Agriculture; Denis Lichi, Paraguay’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock; and Enzo Benech, Uruguay’s Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Director General of IICA also gave his commitment to support the efforts of the region in the area of associativity.
Minister Antonio Walker will lead the efforts, having assumed the role of Pro Tempore President of CAS at the meeting in Chile, succeeding his Argentine colleague, Luis Miguel Etchevehere.
Otero indicated that, “In keeping with the recommendation of the Ministers, IICA will convene the IABA meeting in Costa Rica, where we will conduct meetings between representatives of regional blocs and will familiarize the Ministers with the transformation taking place at the Institute, as well as the way in which it operates.”
The CAS meeting—held at the Palacio de la Moneda—was inaugurated by Minister Walker and by Alejandra Sarquis, Technical-Administrative Secretary of CAS and IICA Representative in Uruguay, and it discussed topics related to health and trade, biotechnology, beekeeping, and associativity. Francisco Mello, IICA’s Manager of Knowledge Management and Horizontal Cooperation Services, gave a presentation on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
There were also presentations on the key elements of each ministry’s policies and on the strategic thematic areas of focus of the region vis-à-vis the rest of the world, emphasizing the importance of the competitiveness of the regional agriculture sector, the promotion of sustainable agriculture, access to regional agrifood chains and the strengthening of rural territorial development.
CAS is the forum for consultation and coordination of regional actions and is comprised of the Ministers of Agriculture of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Its objective is to define priorities for the agricultural agenda, adopt positions on issues of regional interest, and to coordinate the implementation of agreed-on actions.
Agreement with Chile on the Araucanía Region
As part of Otero’s visit to Chile, and with a view to improving the competitiveness of rural family farming in the agrifood and forestry sectors, IICA and Chile’s Ministry of Agriculture signed a letter of understanding to strengthen Chile’s Araucanía region.
The letter of understanding, which was signed by Minister Antonio Walker and by IICA’s Director General, speaks to the formulation of an innovative proposal to strengthen associativity and spur the development of modern cooperative enterprises.
The plan of action proposes public-private partnerships, capacity building and skills training, under the framework of the Impulso Araucanía plan, which will benefit thousands of mapuche and non-mapuche farmers.
Taking into account the ministerial priorities, IICA will work to improve 50 modern, rural cooperative enterprises, driving sustainable water development in Faja Maisán and in communities in the Malleco region; promoting sustainable rural development in partnership with rural municipalities, including providing support to the pilot project of the Planning Office of Chile’s Ministry of Agriculture in the Melipeuco and Los Sauces regions; and will also provide strong support for fruit diversification in the region.
Minister Walker thanked IICA for its work and drive in supporting rural development. “La Araucanía needs us. We must take concrete steps and produce results that improve the quality of life of farmers in the region. In many ways, IICA’s vision of cooperativism and associativity, as opportunities for development, is similar to our own, and its experience in the Americas, with major players such as Canada and Brazil will help us to follow this path.”
In reaffirming IICA’s support for the plan, Otero remarked that, “We believe in renewed technical cooperation that is modern and efficient, working very closely with governments and Ministries of Agriculture, while maintaining a presence at the territorial, regional, and hemispheric levels. IICA should serve as a bridge between institutions, forging partnerships to leverage development and adding stakeholders.”
Walker also spoke of the need to create collaborative networks that would facilitate continued progress and he also referred to IICA as “a great facilitator in the Americas,” fostering the creation of international partnerships.
Also present at the signing of the document were María Emilia Undurraga, Director of Chile’s Office of Agricultural Research and Policies (ODEPA); José Miguel Rodríguez, Head of ODEPA’s Department of International Affairs; Caio Rocha, IICA’s Coordinator for the Southern Region; Jaime Flores, IICA Representative in Chile; and IICA Advisors, Pedro Urra and Carlos Inostroza.
Institutional communication management