·        The increase in exports made it possible to close last year with a surplus trade balance in the agricultural and fisheries sector of $1.289 billion USD. For 20 years this balance had been negative, he said.

·        Latin American and Caribbean countries have acted with vision and responsibility to increase the availability of food and end hunger; we are the only world region to have achieved the objectives set in the Millennium Development Goals, he said.

·        FAO acknowledges the political commitment and efforts of the Mexican government to eradicate hunger and achieve a more sustainable food industry: José Graziano da Silva.

During his inauguration of the 34th Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, President Enrique Peña Nieto said that thanks to the policies, programs and actions Mexico has launched, it has substantially increased its agricultural productivity and “In 2015, agri-food exports amounted to 26.373 billion USD, surpassing the amount recorded at the beginning of this administration by 16.6%.”

He explained that this increase in exports, “Allowed us to close the year with a surplus trade balance in the agricultural and fisheries sector of $1,289 million USD.” For 20 years, he added, “This balance had been negative.”

In Mexico, a more modern and productive rural sector is being consolidated, which contributes to development in the various regions of the country and ensures the full exercise of the human right to food, he said.

Addressing ministers and deputy ministers of the sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, observers from North America, Europe, and international organizations, the president said that, “Our commitment is to increase the availability of food and end hunger, as established in the second Sustainable Development Goal.”

To accomplish this, he added, “Latin America and Caribbean countries have acted with vision and responsibility; we are the only region to have achieved the goals set in the Millennium Development Goals.”

He explained that in the region, “We managed to more than halve the percentage of people suffering from hunger, from 15.3 percent in 1990-1992 to 6.1 percent in the three-year period 2012-2014.”

President Peña Nieto said that we also, “Met the goals of the World Food Summit by reducing undernourishment by more than 9 percentage points from 14.7 percent in the early 1990s to 5.5 percent at the middle of this decade.”

He said that in the specific case of Mexico, “At the beginning of this administration, we assumed a firm commitment to combat this unacceptable condition.” Therefore, he continued, “Mexico launched the National Crusade against Hunger, a cross-cutting strategy that combines the efforts of various government agencies to serve the population living in extreme food poverty.”

He mentioned some of the results of the National Crusade against Hunger in the almost three years since its inception:

·        Over 746,000 people have access to proper food at one of the nearly 8,000 community kitchens installed in the most vulnerable communities.

·        Over 580,000 families may purchase commodities at preferential prices, through the Without Hunger Card.

·        Moreover, nearly seven million families are affiliated to the Social Inclusion Program PROSPERA , which now provides loans, advice and support for productive projects and college scholarships.

The president said that although these developments are significant, “We cannot  ignore the fact that there are still 34 million people suffering from hunger in the region, according to the latest FAO figures.”

To overcome this condition, he said, “It is essential to ensure increased food production and availability, and to achieve this, as in any economic activity, the key word is productivity.”

FAO, he said, “Has indicated that the greatest growth in agricultural productivity will have to be achieved in developing countries by encouraging the participation of small producers, and we are promoting a true transformation of the countryside focusing on small farmers and family farming by facilitating their integration into local and regional markets.”

The Mexican president mentioned some of the programs and actions the government has promoted in Mexico during the first three years of this administration:

- Through the new Productive PROAGRO, resources to support producers are allocated according to their scale and on condition that they effectively purchase inputs or improvements that will increase their yields.

- Through the Incentive Program for Producers of Corn and Beans (PIMAF), 1.2 million small farmers receive technological packages to increase their crop yields.

- Through an integral extensionism model, technical support is provided for producers from the planting to the marketing of their crops. The aim is for them to be more productive and achieve higher earnings.

- To improve the yield of farmlands, technified irrigation was incorporated into 420,000 hectares. This has achieved nearly 90 percent of the six-year goal we set.

President Peña Nieto declared that the joint efforts and responsibility of all the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are crucial to achieving food security in the region.

“Our generation has the responsibility, moral commitment, and above all, a great opportunity to make the countryside a space for a dignified life that acknowledges and encourages the potential of those that make it productive,” he declared.

WE ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK, WE ARE WALKING AND PATHS ARE MADE BY WALKING: JOSÉ GRAZIANO DA SILVA

Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Jose Graziano da Silva, declared that this agency acknowledges the political commitment and efforts of the Mexican government to eradicate hunger and achieve a more sustainable food industry.

He stated that FAO is honored to sign the Letter of Intent between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and this organization, “Which confirms our willingness to accompany the policies of the Mexican government’s programs to combat all forms of malnutrition and promote the sustainable development of the agricultural sector.”

He stressed, “The importance of having intersectoral public policies that promote the coordinated work of the various ministries, and the importance of having effective mechanisms to coordinate the various sectoral actors involved in programs such as civil society and the private sector.”

He also highlighted, “The importance of progressively increasing the coverage of programs in order to benefit seven million families listed in the single register, as quickly as possible.”

Graziano da Silva told the Mexican president that after visiting the community of San Rafael in the state of Michoacán, that he is convinced, “We are on the right track. Do not be discouraged by criticism. Although it is true that there is always room for improvement,  it is also true that those who regularly eat three times every day are unable to appreciate the value of eradicating hunger in a country. “The important thing is that we are on the right track. We are walking and paths are made by walking,” he declared. 

IN THE SUM OF EFFORTS BETWEEN COUNTRIES, FAO’S WORK IN PROMOTING AN AMBITIOUS AGENDA  WITH A people-centered RIGHTS approach is essential: JOSÉ CALZADA

Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food José Eduardo Calzada Rovirosa said that eradicating hunger and extreme poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean are priorities that require alliances between nations.

He declared that international cooperation is essential to defining joint actions and ensuring food security. “In the sum of efforts between countries, FAO’s work in the promotion of an ambitious, people-center, rights-based agenda is crucial,” he said.

He stated that the public policies undertaken by President Peña Nieto’s administration share the same vision as FAO, and explained that, “The support for family farming; the promotion of value chains, and skills development to encourage entrepreneurship, especially for youth and women,  are part of the strategic lines of this administration,” which is already yielding results.

After stating that the priorities of this United Nations agency in rural transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean, will allow men and women working in the countryside to be responsible for their own development, he said that this Regional Conference will allow us to undertake joint initiatives to ensure food security in the region, narrow social equality gaps and construct a fairer society based on equal opportunities and respect for freedoms.”

ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN IS THE GOAL OF THE COOPERATION BETWEEN FAO AND THE GOVERNMENT: CLAUDIA RUIZ MASSIEU

The Letter of Intent signed by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Organization for Food and Agriculture seeks to bolster everyone’s efforts in the pursuit of a common goal: sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean, declared Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu.

She explained that the document will promote and encourage closer links between government agencies to undertake actions in areas such as South-South cooperation; information, monitoring and evaluation of public programs and sustainable food production in a context of adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

In this context, the foreign minister said that President Enrique Peña Nieto’s vision, “Is what we have expressed at multilateral forums and what we bring to this meeting today: we must capitalize on the achievements of last year's multilateral system, but adapted to our region and crucial issues such as food security, agriculture, sustainable use of resources and agricultural cooperation.”

She declared that as a result, Mexico, with technical support from FAO,  launched the Mesoamerica without Hunger Initiative,  based on the experience of the National Crusade against Hunger, as a successful example of South-South cooperation.

“Mexico attaches great importance to the specialized United Nations agencies based in Rome, especially FAO, because of their valuable work in agriculture and food, from which we have benefitted as a country. We also acknowledge the contribution and importance of the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development to build a more sustainable, supportive and self-sufficient world,” declared Ruiz Massieu.