The G20 meeting of agriculture ministers in Buenos Aires in July this year brought together agriculture ministers from countries that account for around 60% of all agricultural land and almost 80% of trade in food and agricultural commodities.
Soil health is a principle focus for Argentina, and an issue long recognised by the G20 as crucial to satisfying the nutritional needs of future generations. The Argentine G20 presidency has taken this recognition a step further by making “a sustainable food future: improving soils and boosting productivity” one of our three presidency priorities. It is the first time since 2011 that agriculture has such prominence in the G20.
Soil as a strategic resource
We are encouraging G20 members to put in place responsible land management techniques that treat soil as a strategic resource for sustainable agriculture and food production. Healthy, fertile and productive soil will help meet the dietary needs of future populations. Its preservation and care are paramount to our general development and well-being.
In Argentina, we believe we can make a considerable contribution to meeting the dietary needs of future populations. As the eighth largest country in the world, with a relatively small population of 44 million, Argentina currently produces food for nine times its population, making it the seventh top food producer and the 13th top food exporter in the world. By 2030, we expect to produce food for 600 million people – 15 times our population. Agribusiness is therefore a crucial component of our economy. It represents 18% of gross domestic product and more than 60% of all exports. Our agricultural practices work with innovative technology: 90% of our agribusiness uses direct seeding and satellite-controlled irrigation systems. Agtech, the application of technology to the global food system, is therefore key. Agtech has the potential to transform economies and meet the demands of a global population growing by a quarter of a million people every day.
We in Argentina have been sharing our expertise at the G20 this year. In March, senior officials from G20 members and international organisations observed high-tech agricultural machinery in action at Expoagro, a renowned agricultural fair specialising in phytosanitary treatments. In May, we welcomed G20 agricultural scientists to the northern Argentine province of Jujuy to meet with experts from the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA). There, they discussed how to take advantage of genetic diversity to drive the productivity and resilience of agricultural systems. And, in July, ministers visited Argentina’s most celebrated annual trade fair, the Rural Expo, in Buenos Aires.
At each of these opportunities, international officials were able to experience what binds our agribusiness sector together today and makes it so effective: close collaboration among farmers and ranchers, businesses and producers, agricultural organisations and the state.
At the G20 meeting of agriculture ministers, we explored how the G20 can provide the international coordination necessary to foster public-private collaboration among industries, governments, international agencies, farmers’ associations and civil society to sustainably increase food production, transform our economies with innovation and technology and meet the dietary needs of future populations. We showcased our domestic policies, considered the different challenges we all face in meeting national and global demands, and looked at the opportunities provided by agriculture and food production in our respective countries.
The meeting’s final declaration was issued after two days of working sessions. It acknowledges the crucial role of G20 members in the global food system and our great responsibility to contribute actively in order to enhance global food security and improve nutrition by increasing agricultural productivity and incomes, while fostering the sustainable management of natural resources. Importantly, it stresses the commitment taken by G20 members to put an end to hunger across the world. In underscoring members’ consensus on the global agri-food agenda, the declaration clearly demonstrates that the G20 continues to be the most relevant forum for international coordination on issues of global importance.