Leading scientists from the G20 gather in Jujuy to work on challenges in agriculture

Over 60 delegates from G20 members and organizations discuss strategies for common solutions to problems relating to nutrition, research and sustainability.

Agricultural research and development officials are in the northern Argentine province of Jujuy to address the sustainability of agricultural systems at the Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists of the G20 (MACS-G20).

Beginning yesterday with a visit to the Salinas Grandes salt flats and concluding tomorrow with the drafting of a communiqué, this meeting has been held annually since 2012. It is a platform for developing strategies and common solutions to key issues affecting agriculture and nutrition. This year, over 60 delegates are looking at the impact of climate change on agricultural production, adequate soil management and genetic modification, and are developing proposals for a sustainable food future, one of the priorities of the Argentine G20 presidency.

“Sustainability can sometimes be a moving target. We need to be very careful in understanding our environment to be able to research and recommend better solutions according to a changing climate and environment,” said meeting chair Santiago del Solar, Chief of Staff at the Argentine Ministry of Agribusiness, in his opening remarks on Tuesday. “Collaborative work between different branches of science have a tremendous impact and synergy. Creating new technologies means creating new jobs,” he added.

In addition to the excursion to Salinas Grandes, 12,000 hectares of white salt plains straddling the provinces of Salta and Jujuy at an average altitude of over 3,400 metres above sea level, the first day of the meeting included a brief tour of Purmamarca, a traditional lunch at the Manantial del Silencio hotel, and a working visit to the Posta de Hornillos, one of the five sites of the Research Institute for Family Farmers (IPAF), which is part of the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA). Delegates were introduced to three of the institution’s areas of work – Andean cultivation, alpaca raising and renewable energy – to explore the institute’s technologies and understand its achievements in different ecological regions across the country.

“Research, development, reach, and transference. Recalling those four words will ensure you know INTA,” said Juan Balbín, meeting co-chair and president of INTA, the event host. Created in 1956, INTA is a decentralized public institution pertaining to the Argentine Ministry of Agribusiness. It develops skills for the agribusiness sector and generates knowledge and technology through its information and communication networks to help benefit different sectors of society.

Today, on day two of the meeting, specialists from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) are discussing genetic modification and sustainable soils. The agenda at the Altos de la Viña Hotel in the provincial capital of San Salvador de Jujuy also includes group discussions and presentations. This evening, delegates will attend the official MACS-G20 dinner.

Tomorrow’s agenda, the final day of the meeting, will be dedicated to the effects of climate change on soils, and specifically to the emergence and re-emergence of diseases. In this context, they will discuss international cooperative action to take advantage of genetic diversity as a tool to drive the productivity and resilience of agricultural systems.

After the traditional family photo, chief scientists will prepare a communiqué with the main conclusions of the meeting and look ahead to the agricultural issues on the agenda at next year’s G20, under the presidency of Japan.

 

About the G20

The G20 started out in 1999 as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors. In 2008, amidst the global financial crisis, it evolved into what it is today: a major forum for dialogue and decision-making attended by world leaders from vital economies. Together, the G20 members represent 85% of global GDP, two-thirds of the world’s population, and 75% of international trade.