Hipólito Mejía, former President of the Dominican Republic – the latest IICA Goodwill Ambassador
San Jose, 30 April 2021 (IICA). On Wednesday, the former President and former Minister of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic, Hipólito Mejía became the latest Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainable Agricultural Development of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). Also attending the ceremony, virtually, from Santo Domingo, was the current Dominican Head of State, Luis Abinader.
The title conferred by IICA is in recognition of the contributions of the former Dominican President to strengthen the research system and scientific innovation in his country, and of his commitment to human development, the agriculture sector and rural areas in his country.
Hipólito Mejía, who was President from 2000 to 2004, was an agronomist and researcher prior to entering public life, where he brought to the task his identity as a rural man and a professional focused on building associations and organizations of agricultural producers, and on promoting agricultural research and the expansion of credit systems for producers.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Abinader remarked that, “This is a title and a recognition of a Statesman with a long and impeccable track record and a history of commitment to his country and to the agriculture sector. Agriculture is in his blood and he has dedicated his life to it. This is a recognition of a man of the soil, with a long record of service to agriculture in his country. Papá, as he is popularly called by the Dominican people, has the agriculture sector in his blood and he has dedicated his life to it.”
“This title bears witness to his preeminence, as a man who embodies the best values, such as dedication, commitment and love for a sector that means the world to him. Thank you for making our rural areas and our country competitive, equitable and resilient. We hope that this new title be an example to many others, who are striving to make this world a better place, and who also love the land”, said Abinader.
Hipólito Mejía, on accepting the IICA Goodwill Ambassador title, reflected that, “The development of a sustainable and profitable agriculture sector has been the main concern of my work”. Having emphasized the value of IICA’s contribution to the agriculture sector, he maintained that, “It is essential that we recognize the role of agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean in the current context. Food security is the primary goal of agriculture. Each country must capitalize on available resources within its borders to produce all the food required by its people, mainly to protect health”.
He also insisted that “We must work to strengthen agricultural exports within the region” and mentioned “the potential of the circular economy”, indicating the need to establish permanent linkages between agriculture and the environment, as “agriculture continues to be an essential economic activity. Therefore, the challenge is to devise and put into practice public policies centered around agricultural value chains”.
Mejía also observed that “Technological innovation is essential for agriculture in the region. In most countries, agriculture has reached the limit of its frontiers, and thus productivity must be increased, through the use of technological solutions, backed by research and innovation, and tailored to the reality of each country and region, to ensure successful application”.
Minister of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic, Limber Cruz, who also participated in the ceremony, stressed IICA’s contribution to the development of the agriculture sector in his country and spoke of the plan that his Government is implementing to benefit the sector.
The Minister remarked that, “I would like to recognize IICA’s efforts since its creation in 1942 and its establishment in the Dominican Republic in 1968, and also commend the efforts of Manuel Otero to create a modern IICA, that works closely with countries and responds quickly to address national needs, even while navigating the pandemic”.
“Allow me to express my appreciation to IICA, on behalf of the Dominican Republic, for honoring Hipólito Mejía, a man who has always offered me the best guidance, demonstrating ethical principles and values, and proving that politics can be pursued with decency and efficiency, to benefit the country”.
On the other hand, the IICA Director General, emphasized the professional background of the former Dominican President, remarking that “His career as an agronomist and his identity as a man of the soil were reflected in his tenure as President, when he prioritized the food security of the Dominican nation, the creation of opportunities in rural areas and environmental protection and conservation”.
“His view that rural territories must be placed at the heart of public policies, as a way to spur development; that the quality of human resources working in agriculture must be improved; and that investment in agricultural research must be increased, perfectly coincides with the view that we are promoting at IICA”, he added.
Otero also provided Mejía and Minister Cruz with a detailed overview of the work that IICA is undertaking in preparation for the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit, indicating that the specialized organization, is “fully involved in efforts to ensure that governments, institutions and farmers in the Americas are adequately represented at this major forum, defending the idea that agriculture has been and will continue to be an essential link in the global agrifood system”.
Also participating in the ceremony were the Mayor of Santo Domingo, Carolina Mejía, who is also the daughter of the former President; Christian Guillermet, Costa Rica’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship; Mayerlyn Cordero Díaz, the Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to Costa Rica; Nora Capello, the Ambassador of Argentina to the Dominican Republic; Beatriz Paredes, Mexican Senator and IICA Goodwill Ambassador; Gina Rosario, IICA Representative in the Dominican Republic; Xinia Chaves, Executive Director of ICAFÉ in Costa Rica; and Martín Piñeiro, Director General Emeritus of IICA.
Guillermet, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, maintained that, “IICA can take pride in its important initiatives in the region, which have earned it the recognition of many countries in the Americas, as well as its projects to improve agriculture and the standard of living and advancement of our people”. In the context of an era in which sustainable and inclusive recovery is a priority, he said that “it is important that we recognize a person with a vision for the future, who was addressing these issues long before we faced the problems that are afflicting us today”.
The Costa Rican Deputy Minister remarked that, “We are pleased to applaud the work to benefit the environment and natural resource conservation by this good farmer, who respects and lives in harmony with nature, which is something we have in common. We appreciate his support for gender equity and opportunities for young people, through education”.
Senator Paredes reflected that, “IICA is gaining a great deal by adding engineer, Hipólito Mejía to its corps of Goodwill Ambassadors, because this strategy will increase the diversity of voices that are pledging our commitment to agriculture in our region”.
Speaking on behalf of all the Goodwill Ambassadors, Paredes said that with Mejía’s presence in the group, IICA was gaining a perspective on the destiny of agriculture in the Caribbean. She recalled that, “Climate change is threatening the Caribbean in a dramatic way and the region has made extraordinary efforts to enhance production and to transform the agriculture sector. In the Dominican Republic, efforts to guarantee agricultural food supplies have been truly remarkable and it is evident that an agricultural engineer had served as President”.
Martín Piñeiro, Director General Emeritus of IICA, in reflecting on the new IICA Goodwill Ambassador, stressed that, “Very few people have had such an extensive and fruitful career as Hipólito Mejía, who has shown an unwavering commitment to his country and region. He has and continues to champion agroindustrial development and is an example of how to integrate actions in the public and private sectors”.
Institutional Communication Division, IICA.