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Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas to discuss position toward UN Food Systems Summit

Threats to trade and agriculture's contribution to the post-pandemic recovery will be topics of discussion.


Flags of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States member countries.

At the virtual meeting scheduled for 1-2 September, the Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas will discuss such topics as the Hemisphere’s common position toward the UN Food Systems Summit, the rising threats to agricultural trade posed by plagues and disease, the effects of climate variability on the sector and its strategic role in post-Covid-19 economic recovery.

This year, the meeting has been titled “Sustainable Agri-Food Systems: The engine of development in the Americas” and will be held in the framework of the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, at which the Inter-American Board of Agriculture, the highest governing body of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), will also hold its regular meeting.

At the Conference, the ministers of agriculture of the Inter-American System’s 34 Member States will hear from Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, and Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy to the UN Food Systems Summit, who will inform on the course of action of the global forum scheduled to begin on 23 September in New York, for which the countries of the Americas—mobilized with the support of IICA—reached a common position.

Moreover, Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA, will report to the ministers on his term as director of the hemispheric organization specialized in rural and agricultural development and will refer to the new challenges facing the sector and the tools made available by technical cooperation to tackle them.

“This session provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the role of sustainable agri-food systems as the strategic backbone of the economic recovery of our countries post-Covid-19. We cannot let it go to waste. We are facing enormous challenges and IICA, alongside the countries of the Americas, must be more and more prepared and have the tools necessary to tackle them”, said Manuel Otero.

Renato Alvarado, Costa Rica’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, commented that “some of the issues we will discuss include the importance and challenges of the transformation of agri-food systems; the importance of drawing attention to our enormous agricultural wealth; and the role of agriculture in light of the pandemic and how to solve the problem of providing food for our people”.

According to the program shared by IICA on the Conference’s website, the top-ranking officials will also discuss the situation surrounding the detection of African swine fever (ASF) in the Americas, recently recognized by the Dominican Republic.

In the respective segment of the Conference, in addition to presentations by the ministers, secretaries and heads of delegation, Monique Eloit, Director General of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), will also make a presentation.

The environmental, social and economic challenges facing food systems in the Americas will also be a topic of discussion.

“We cannot continue to produce as we have done for the past 60 years. The environmental cost we have paid has been very high. The balance of social exclusion has also been very high and is a huge debt we must pay. We are faced with the challenge of continuing to produce food for a growing population, but doing so more sustainably”, commented Víctor Villalobos, Secretary of Agricultural and Rural Development of Mexico, prior to the Conference.

The Mexican official also congratulated the Director General of IICA “for the initiative taken to ensure the voice of agriculture of the Americas, and especially the voice of the continent’s producers, is heard at the Food Systems Summit”. He continued, “the consensus we have reached is good news and a call to strengthen the multilateral systems that today, in the face of the health emergency, have demonstrated their relevance and strength”.

María Emilia Undurraga, Minister of Agriculture of Chile, expressed that “this meeting of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture as the highest governing body of IICA is especially relevant as an item on the agenda embodies the consensus of our countries, that is the transformation of agri-food systems and the role of agriculture in the Americas”.

She added that, “Building healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems must be our target; to that end, we must work in collaboration with the entire agri-food chain on matters related to government policy”.

The Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas 2021 and the Twenty-First Regular Meeting of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA) will be held virtually due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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