Amidst the crisis and fear, a passport to the future

A message from Manuel Otero is Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

In many countries, it has been the only sector that has continued to operate without interruption during the pandemic. Despite the decline in global trade and the difficulties imposed by the virus, it has been able to increase its exports and to reaffirm its strategic role.

We are celebrating World Agriculture Day during one of the worst crises in memory. The pandemic has created and will continue to create more poverty, inequality and social despair, and yet it has not halted production or the supply of food.

During these past months, many Latin American nations have produced entire harvests that will feed the world and will keep the wheels churning in an activity that is vital for life. It is clear that this is not the time for complacency, but a time when we must insist that this sector that offers structural solutions for the most serious problems of human civilization should be accorded the greatest priority in public agendas.
With its production linkages, agriculture is the activity that can most rapidly guarantee improved living conditions and fuel the expansion of services related to education, justice, telecommunications and infrastructure for rural inhabitants, in order to resolve the problems that lead to rural flight and migration to urban centers.

These objectives are key aspects of the new technical cooperation agenda, which will also include the facilitation of producers’ access to commercial chains; the promotion of the bio-economy; and the smart industrialization of our societies, based on the use of biological resources, which together have the potential to convert rural territories into a vast green factory, producing food, bioenergy, biomaterial and probiotics.

Let us celebrate and recognize the value of agriculture.