Buenos Aires, 19 November 2018 (IICA). Andrés Murchison, Secretary of Food and Bioeconomy of the Secretariat of Agroindustry of Argentina, and the Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Manuel Otero, signed a Letter of Intent through which the South American country will lead efforts aimed at encouraging the American hemisphere to capitalize on bioeconomy.
The letter, which was signed in Buenos Aires at the headquarters of the Secretariat of Agroindustry of Argentina, represents the first step toward generating political and regulatory frameworks to capitalize on bioeconomy throughout the continent. It also provides an opportunity to drive international cooperation and develop courses and knowledge management platforms for the benefit of agriculture and rural areas.
“In Argentina, we have many examples of successful projects related to value-adding, biomass use and biotechnology, which can be replicated in other Latin American countries. Argentina plays a very important leading role in biotechnology for genetically modified crops. By developing our own technology, we have increased our sector’s productivity and reduced the environmental impact of our production activities. These are just two concrete examples of bioeconomy, and we have much more to contribute to the rest of Latin America,” stated the Argentinian official.
Bioeconomy is regarded as the broadest approach to driving sustainable development based on production and consumption patterns and in accordance with the goals of preserving resources as well as mitigating and adapting to climate change. Bioeconomy involves, on the one hand, the implementation of development strategies based on an intensive, efficient use of resources, technologies and biological processes, and, on the other hand, the sustainable provision of goods and services required by societies.
IICA’s new institutional road map, the 2018-2022 Medium-term Plan, includes Bioeconomy and Production Development as one of the Institute’s main work programs.
The head of IICA highlighted the fact that, by 2050, the population will be larger, wealthier, older and more urban, making it necessary to almost duplicate agricultural production with less land and water, while also facing the loss of biodiversity and natural resources as well as the impact of climate change. This, in turn, will require an agricultural and rural model that is more inclusive and sustainable without sacrificing growth and efficiency.
The Letter of Intent will launch the implementation of coordination, interaction, cooperation and reciprocity mechanisms in Latin America to capitalize on bioeconomy under the leadership of Argentina, whose advanced political-institutional structure can assist in developing and disseminating this vision for production.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, which is where eight of the 17 most megadiverse countries on the planet are located, bioeconomy represents a new and powerful opportunity. The region possesses more than one fourth of the world’s arable land and one third of its fresh water resources, making it one of the primary producers of sustainable biomass.
Furthermore, with respect to development strategies, bioeconomy challenges the outdated “agriculture versus industry” controversy. The boundaries between sectors are becoming increasingly blurred and irrelevant, as new value chains and ways to take advantage of biological resources begin to arise.
The global market for some of the main bioeconomic products doubles or even triples the growth of most agricultural raw materials, with yearly expansion rates of more than 12%, reaching 25% per year in the case of biofuels.