Washington, 16 May 2019 (IICA). The Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Manuel Otero, strengthened the joint work program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which focuses on the promotion of the intensive use of technology to raise productivity, and Codex Alimentarius standards.
After receiving a strong endorsement from IICA’s Member States via the Permanent Council of the OAS (see report), Otero met with the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ted McKinney. Their discussions focused on the participation of IICA member countries, especially those that are relatively less developed, in the activities of Codex Alimentarius, and compliance with that body’s standards. They also touched upon aspects relating to promotion of the use of technology in Latin American and Caribbean agriculture.
“Under Secretary McKinney backs the work program we have been developing, with which we want to explore further the agriculture of the future - intensive use of technology, compliance with Codex Alimentarius standards, genome editing and digital agriculture. We are on the same page as regards the approach needed and how to roll it out,” Otero remarked.
Under Secretary McKinney hosted a working lunch for the IICA Director General and his team. Ken Isley, the Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, also took part.
The IICA-USDA work program focuses on the issues of agricultural health and food safety, trade and biotechnology.
After highlighting the positive reception given to the report presented to the Permanent Council of the OAS on IICA’s activities in 2018, Otero thanked the Ambassadors, including Council Chair Carlos Trujillo. One of the body’s responsibilities is to review the work of the agencies of the Inter-American system.
“We believe this is agriculture’s time to shine in the Americas. Given its potential in our hemisphere and the role it plays in driving economic activity, innovations and job creation, it offers the best passport to the future. I am delighted that these messages have been so well received. The details of IICA’s activities in the countries described by the Ambassadors demonstrated clearly what we are doing,” Otero observed.
In the U.S. capital, the IICA Director General also took part in an activity organized by Guatemala’s Ambassador in Washington, Manuel Espina, involving U.S. lawmakers and representatives of Guatemala’s private sector.
“There is a very interesting approach and a message to the United States. Guatemala needs more trade, investment, and jobs in order to halt emigration. It is an important message and, once again, agriculture is at the heart of the generation of jobs and foreign exchange, and these ideas and IICA’s are very similar,” explained the Director General of the specialized agency.
Otero rounded off his visit with meetings with officials of the World Bank, including Erik Bethel, the U.S. Representative on the financial institution’s Board of Directors, and the World Food Programme (WFP). IICA is seeking greater interaction with these agencies.
Institutional Communication Division.