At the Summit of the Americas, IICA calls for collective action among countries of the Americas to combat food insecurity, foster sustainability and guarantee peace and democratic stability
Los Angeles, United States, 10 June 2022 (IICA) – Coordinated work among countries of the Americas will prevent a food, nutritional and humanitarian crisis in the region and the world, at a time when the overlapping effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Eastern Europe are disrupting supply chains and driving up food production costs and food prices, explained the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
At the Summit of the Americas, IICA, the specialized agency for agricultural and rural development of the Inter-American System, presented concrete proposals for collective action among countries of the region, with a focus on strengthening and transforming their agrifood systems as a key tool for achieving food security, environmental sustainability, peace and democratic stability.
The document “Proposals on Strengthening Collective Action in the Americas to Tackle Food Insecurity and Ensure Sustainable Development”, presented by the Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero, at the hemispheric Heads of State and Government Meeting, notes that the abundance of natural resources in the Americas affords a valuable opportunity to achieve greater productive diversification, which would yield economic, social and environmental benefits, as well as contribute to democratic consolidation in the Americas.
“The functioning of agrifood systems in the Americas has repercussions globally, both for food security as well as environmental sustainability. The region is the world’s major net food exporter of agricultural products and food, making it a cornerstone of global food security, by contributing to price stability and the supply of these products”, states IICA.
The Institute goes on to note that “Underperformance of the agrifood systems of the region will affect not only food security and the sustainability of the planet, but may also bring about negative consequences for the rest of the world, such as migration due to stressful conditions and greater social vulnerability”.
The document highlights the fact that the region has assets that will strengthen its strategic role in the future, as a region of peace that has an abundance of available natural resources and diverse production systems. However, it notes that the region is also characterized by social and production gaps that demonstrate the need to modernize agrifood systems, and recalls that the Americas have a history of undertaking joint efforts, which must continue.
In light of uncertain political, economic and trade scenarios and ongoing and increasing volatility, explains IICA, the opportunity lies in the ability of governments, the private sector, multilateral credit agencies, technical cooperation institutions and civil society to work together to enable the region to achieve better production, trade, social and environmental standards. The current complex circumstances need not lead to a humanitarian crisis; however, countries in the region must work together in solidarity.
The following are some of the actions that IICA proposes to overcome short-term challenges:
- create public-private forums for price monitoring and ensuring an adequate supply of fertilizers for the 2022-2023 crop cycles;
- organize proper financing from the banking system, in order to offset increased production costs;
- bolster social protection networks and food plans to ensure continued access to healthy diets by lower income and vulnerable populations;
- promote regional trade and integration; and
- facilitate proper functioning of international food trade, safeguarding against greater volatility in global markets.
IICA warns that the current overlapping crises call for timely responses in the short term that can generate resilience to a more challenging and unstable world in the future.
For medium- and long-term efforts, the Institute is proposing four strategic areas of work, which build on the consensus reached by the Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas following extensive discussions coordinated by IICA, which resulted in 16 key messages on the irreplaceable role of agriculture, which the Americas presented at the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit.
The first area of work involves the strengthening and transformation of agrifood systems of the Americas. This vision highlights the essential role of agrifood systems in economic development, decent employment and exports, based on a dynamic private sector that includes women, minorities and youth.
The second area focuses on the challenges and opportunities for agrifood trade in the Americas within the new geopolitical context. The document highlights the importance of promoting and facilitating intraregional food trade, whose full potential is currently untapped due to insufficient infrastructure and logistics and the absence of sufficient regulatory convergence.
The role of science, technology and innovation as key tools for efficient and sustainable agroindustrial production is the third area of work. At present, technology has emerged as a means of adapting to climate change while capitalizing on production potential. To this end, it is crucial to facilitate access to technologies by increasing investment in research and development across the region.
The fourth area of work underscores the need to strengthen the cooperative system to facilitate economic and social inclusion. In this regard, the current crisis is exerting new pressures on an already burdened family farming sector.
The document explains that the presence of agricultural cooperative enterprises in rural economies is particularly relevant in a context of uncertainty. Within this framework, IICA will undertake various actions and projects of a hemispheric scope – together with strategic partners such as international institutions, academic networks, the private sector and civil society – to facilitate the modernization of family farming and support cooperative leaders.
Institutional Communication Division.