May 19, 2014, Texcoco, Mexico – Last week, senior leaders from the private sector, multi-lateral organizations and development agencies presented the campaign Invest in LAC Agriculture, to encourage increased public and private sector investment in agriculture to unlock the production potential of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
The campaign launched at the National Press Club in Washington, D. C., seeks to boost agricultural productivity in a region endowed with over one third of the world’s fresh water resources, and more than a quarter of the world’s medium to high potential farmland. This call to action for scaling up investments in agricultural development and research relies on the key policy recommendations of a groundbreaking report by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Global Harvest Initiative, The Next Global Breadbasket: How Latin America Can Feed the World, which was released on 23 April (download the report from here) This report illustrates the opportunities, obstacles and challenges that stand in the way of realizing LAC’s agricultural potential, and how the public and private sectors can and must move forward together.
The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) was among the 30 plus partner organizations that contributed compelling evidence for policy action and investment in eight key areas: Agriculture Science, Research and Development; Knowledge and Extension Services for Farmers; Transport and Logistics Infrastructure; Irrigation, Water Management and Mechanization Technology; Regional and Global Trade; Farmers’ Access to Financial Services: Managing Risk and Availability of Credit; Cooperatives and Producer Associations; Reduction of Post-Harvest Losses.
In particular, CIMMYT shared its experience in improving extension services in Mexico by developing MasAgro – Móvil, a mobile information service that offers technical advice, grain price and weather information to more than 3,500 small and medium-sized farmers that participate in the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro) project.
CIMMYT and the Mexican Agriculture Secretary started MasAgro in 2010 to increase Mexico’s maize and wheat productivity by developing improved maize seeds for rain-fed zones and promoting conservation practices among resource-constrained farmers, explained Bram Govaerts, Deputy Director of the Conservation Agriculture Program, who represented CIMMYT at the event.
MasAgro was also acknowledged by the senior representatives of partner institutions that spoke at the campaign launching. Ricardo Sánchez, Sustainable Food Security Director for Latin America of The Nature Conservancy, considered the MasAgro collaboration between CIMMYT and Mexico an example that offers opportunities to young farmers that wish to earn their livelihood from agriculture.
On a similar note, Philippe Villers, President of GrainPro Inc., said that Mexico and CIMMYT were at the forefront of the Green Revolution of the seventies, and that today their MasAgro partnership was developing extension systems that effectively achieve yield increases and reduce post-harvest losses.
The recommendations and successful experiences of the Report were further discussed on an afternoon briefing at the United States Dirksen Senate Building attended by Members of Congress and their Staff, representatives of the U. S. Department of Agriculture and Agency for International Development, NGOs, foundations, think tanks, researchers and academics working in and for the LAC region.