Latin America shows its colors: Regional dialogue on innovation for SAI

Esteban Benites / Unsplash

On August 26, the first regional dialogue on innovation for sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI) was co-hosted by CoSAI and FONTAGRO, with the support of the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (FAO RLC). The dialogue started with introductory remarks from Julio Berdegue, CoSAI Commissioner and FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean.

CoSAI hosted the first panel, introduced by CoSAI Chair Ruben Echeverria, with presentations from Commissioners Rodomiro Ortiz and Ximena Rueda. Dr Ortiz started by giving context to the region, sharing the findings from a regional consultation that highlights 10 action areas to promote SAI in Latin America and the Caribbean. He mentioned that, at an operational level, SAI implies actions in three strategic pillars: socio-economic, ecological and genetic intensification. The first aims to create sustainable livelihoods and increase human capacity for achieving them. Dr Rueda continued with a presentation on the emerging evidence from the Paying for Nature and Society work being undertaken by CoSAI. She noted that hybrid conservation instruments have enormous potential to move agriculture towards sustainable intensification, as they are novel, highly diverse, and have been adopted in many countries. Nevertheless, to be more inclusive and have greater impacts, they require adaptations to their geographic locations, the type of producers they serve, and the scale at which they operate. This emerging evidence was also presented at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on September 7, where it was followed by a lively panel discussion. You can read about the CoSAI session at the IUCN Congress here.

The second panel was hosted by FONTAGRO, with moderation by its Executive Secretary, Eugenia Saini, and with representatives from various sectors participating in the panel discussion. First, Santiago Fariña from FONTAGRO presented experiences of sustainable intensification in the dairy sector. He mentioned that, because the majority of Latin America and the Caribbean produces milk from cows that graze extensively, there is potential within the sector for sustainable scaling. Mr Fariña’s main message was that expert training in systems and system analysis tools are key to locally choosing sustainable, low-cost, high-impact intensification strategies. The private sector was also represented at the event with the presentation from Osiris Ocando, Latin America Agricultural Policy and Government Relationships Lead at Bayer. Ms Ocando explained Bayer’s approach to innovation for promoting SAI. Lastly, Cesar Echeverry shared his journey as a fourth-generation coffee farmer and agricultural entrepreneur in knowledge management for value-adding.

The collaboration between FONTAGRO and CoSAI will continue in the upcoming months through the participation of Santiago Fariña as a member of CoSAI’s Taskforce on Principles and Metrics. CoSAI's engagement with the Latin American region will continue this September 30, with a dialogue on financial incentives to encourage farmers to protect and restore nature, co-hosted with the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and the SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (CODS), and supported by the IUCN Regional Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (ORMACC)/Regional Office for South America (SUR).