Media Center

Press Release


  September 20, 2006

Speaking at the Organization of American States (OAS), the Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Chelston Brathwaite, said today that complex problems in the hemisphere’s rural sector require strategic cooperation alliances among governments, the international community, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector in order to help relieve rural poverty.

“We need to share the global prosperity with the rural communities of the Americas; if we do not, one day poverty will render our societies socially unstable,” Brathwaite said during a special session of the Permanent Council, convened to study “The Promotion of Agricultural and Rural Development in the Hemisphere.” He added that the reduction of poverty and hunger should be above all other commitments, and that in a world of global prosperity, which aims at improving the human condition, “poverty is morally unjustified.”

In providing an overview of rural life in the hemisphere, Brathwaite noted areas of progress as well as setbacks, highlighting the enormous potential for agriculture to contribute to poverty reduction in the developing world. He noted the need to modernize the rural sector of the Americas through investment in new technologies that would allow those who make a living from agriculture to participate in an emerging rural prosperity.

The IICA Director General talked about the importance of maintaining a rural development program that responds to the challenges of the agricultural sector in order to meet the Millennium Goals, and also called for the cooperation of financial entities such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to strengthen their investments in the development of agricultural initiatives.

Brathwaite underscored the importance of promoting rural prosperity, which he called “vital for stable governments,” adding that the rural poor cannot wait for answers to their urgent problems. He called on the international community to strengthen the market access of agricultural products, reduce subsidies, level the playing field in trade and create new agribusinesses.

The Permanent Council session was chaired by Ambassador Henry Illes of Suriname, with the participation of Alfonso Quinónez, Executive Secretary of Integral Development, who renewed the OAS commitment to continue working with IICA on cooperation projects. High-level IICA authorities made presentations on new challenges the institution is facing in the 21st century; the hemispheric biotechnology program; agro-tourism development in the Caribbean; agricultural health and food safety; and case studies of IICA development projects and programs in Nicaragua and Haiti.

Following the presentations, representatives of member states shared their country’s experiences on issues related to rural development, and thanked IICA for its support.

Reference: E-195/06