Economía 29-09-2017

​Latin America should have agriculture as a strategic sector, says expert

Latin America must have in its future agriculture as a strategic sector that, without displacing tourism and industry, promote rural development, trade.

This was said in an interview with Efe, the candidate promoted by the Government of Argentina to lead the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. Cooperation for Agriculture (IICA), Manuel Otero, who met today in Bogotá with the Deputy Minister of Multilateral Affairs of Colombia, Francisco Javier Echeverri.

Otero, veterinarian with a 30-year trajectory in IICA where he worked, among other positions, as a representative in Brazil and Uruguay, said that in the region "we forget about the field.”

"We get carried away by the lights attracted by other development strategies that are not bad, but to the extent that we can bring agriculture into the very conception itself.

"We have a past, we have a present and we must recover a future that has to be, it has to have, agriculture as a strategic sector," he added. Otero, although he clarified that this does not mean forgetting "tourism or industry, but recognize our origins" and the importance of agriculture.

In that context, he considered that "it takes a lot of political will and an IICA to work side by side with the countries in that direction".

To assume the leadership of IICA, an organization with presence in 35 countries, including its headquarters in Costa Rica, said that "climate change, food security and poverty will have priority issues."

“Climate, affects us all," said the expert, who considered that IICA should have a" much more active role and be closer "to the countries, especially the Caribbean and Central America, to address this problem.

He also said that his country, Argentina, is suffering "very severe floods", while there are droughts in some regions of the continent.

In this sense, he said that "the urgent issue that requires a response to the circumstances" is that of hurricanes in the Caribbean.

"I just proposed creation of a fund for resilient agriculture for the Eastern Caribbean countries and this means having good projects, going to get money and trying to see how agriculture can to tackle these climatic consequences that are really terrible," he added.

In the face of food security, which linked climate change, he noted that “two-thirds of the countries of the continent "are" still vulnerable and insecure from the point of view of food "and therefore urged" to do everything possible "to" increase productivity levels, competitiveness, incorporate more technology, be very careful about health. "

He also stressed the need to" break this vicious circle that poverty generates more poverty. "

“Poverty in rural areas generates inequality, exclusion, exodus, " he said, and considered that these areas should be seen as opportunities for" opportunity, progress "to" begin to reverse the "

Asked about his meeting with a representative of the Colombian Government, Otero described the meeting as" amiable "and" very cordial ", noting that he stressed the importance of Colombia has to be a much more active partner because IICA with Colombia is one thing and another thing is without Colombia, "said the expert, who hoped that the country "is taking a series of measures to take an increasingly strong role in the institution."

He said he told the Colombian Vice Minister his interest in to create "a kind of international center for rural development for peace."

This entity would support Colombia in the first place, which, after the peace agreement with the FARC, areas affected by the armed conflict, as well as "other regions" within and outside the continent.