MINISTER OF AGROINDUSTRY
Argentina 2017 I Agriculture I Leader
BIOGRAPHY He graduated as a National Public Accountant from Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA). Before his appointment as the Minister of Agroindustry of Argentina in December 2015, he was the President of CHAFOR and President of the Rural Society of Pilcomayo. He was also elected National Deputy for the Province of Formosa.
“WE WANT TO BECOME THE SUPERMARKET OF THE WORLD, OPENING FACTORIES, IMPROVING PRODUCTION, ADDING VALUE TO EACH PRODUCT.”
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR LATEST ACHIEVEMENTS AND MAIN PRIORITIES FOR 2017/18?
We are working on many fronts and establishing dialogue and reaching consensus with all parties involved in the agriculture sector in Argentina. We have removed agricultural export taxes on all crops and regional economies, with a 5% reduction in soybeans, and due to this measure, we expect a record harvest of 137 million tons. The Export Operations Registers was eliminated to improve transparency in the market and the exchange rate unified. Two important new laws, linked to the agroindustry, were sanctioned by the National Congress: the Law of Management of Empty Containers of Phytosanitary Products and the Law of Fumigant Pesticides.
Our main priority is the added value through which we can promote the commercial and productive integration of the sector, innovating in each link of the value chains to achieve the best results in quality, production, and trade. It is the central element of the consolidation of the agroindustry sector in Argentina, overcoming the old paradigm of the “field versus industry”. We have established a Program for Strengthening Regional Economies and started FONDAGRO, a trust fund of USD 1,7 billion that promotes working capital, infrastructure, logistics, quality and added value for regional economies, including banked and unbanked producers. We also created a USD 2,6 billion fund of export refunds for regional economies and a USD 1,8 billion Health Plan for control, research and the fight against diseases that affect and hinder access to markets throughout the country.
We have identified priorities for 2017/18 and we are aiming to add value to our productions, exporting not only food but knowledge; the recovery of the productive interior through the strengthening of regional economies; and increase the presence of Argentina in the world for its quality, safe and innocuous foods. These efforts will be the result of the establishment of a transparency policy as we would want people to consume safe food and meet the standards required by the Argentine and international markets in a framework of legal compliance to ensure competitive conditions.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT STRATEGY FOR OPENING NEW MARKETS AND EXPANDING THE TRADE OF ARGENTINE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS?
Argentina is one of the world’s major agricultural producers, ranking 6th in the world and participating with 2.35% of the global food trade. Our objective is to recover markets and move from the 13th to the 9th position as a world exporter by 2020. In this direction, we have opened new markets for Argentine products. In 2016 and 2017, 39 destinations were opened for 60 productive sectors, and another six were reopened for eight products. Argentine agro-industrial exports in 2016 were nearly USD 40 billion, an increase of 7% from the levels achieved in 2015. The United States remains a key player in our international trade, representing 7% of the Argentine agro-industrial export. We have been able to reopen the market to sell NOA lemons to the US, after having been closed for 15 years which was remarkable. The world is opening its doors for us, and we have the opportunity to transform our sector so that more Argentines can grow; we want to become the supermarket of the world, opening factories, improving production, adding value to each product.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE AGROINDUSTRY SECTOR IN ARGENTINA?
The world faces significant challenges, to produce food for a population in constant growth under systems that contemplate adaptation and resilience to climate change. In this sense, the Argentine agroindustry contributes enormously not only to international food security but also to the replacement of fossil fuels, favoring the development of corn, sugarcane, forestry, among others. We have the challenge of being able to supply a demand for food and beverages that is expected to increase 40% by 2050. When President Macri ends his mandate, with approximately 0.5% of the world’s population, Argentina will be able to feed, in the most conservative case, about 8% of the world’s population.
We must overcome and reach four challenges: population growth, that will imply a greater need for food provision in developing countries; the scarcity of natural resources; the need to restructure the sources of energy, promoting the use of renewable energies; and the adaptation and resilience to climate change in all its aspects. The challenge for the future is enormous, but we are convinced that we are on the right track. Environment, sustainability, good practices: these efforts are not philanthropy, they are profitability for investments. They are the future of the economy, of the bioeconomy. We believe that the future lies on bioeconomy with the conversion of biomass into food, energy, biopolymers, driving sustainable development in the different regions of the country.
Argentina has been working on climate change mitigation for many years, and our convictions are based on the revolution that occurred in the last 30 years in Argentina, through a change of production, based on direct seeding and adapting to good agricultural practices. We are convinced that Argentina has the natural, technological and human resources to face the great challenges of the world, which positions the Argentine agroindustrial sector in a vanguard position in the face of the search for international investments.