06 June 2023, Brazil: CABI has shared its expertise at the first Pan-American Bioinputs Forum: Perspectives and Opportunities for a Growing Subsector aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability in the region.
Dr Yelitza Colmenarez, CABI’s Centre Director, Brazil, joined a panel discussion on ‘Regulations and Policies for the Promotion of Bioinputs’ which explored issues around the regulatory frameworks including the registration of Bioproducts and the access of genetic resources and biological controls agents for crop pests and diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Bioinputs in agriculture are alternatives to chemical inputs and are products made from beneficial organisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and insects, or natural extracts obtained from plants, that can be used in agricultural production to control pests, or promote the development of plants.
The forum was convened to address the challenges and benefits of biological raw materials, in view of the need to create more sustainable agrifood systems in the Americas, equipped to produce more and better food with more limited resources.
It was organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology (FONTAGRO, which is sponsored by IICA and IDB) and the Adapted Agroforestry Systems for the Central American Dry Corridor project (AGRO- INNOVA, funded by the European Union and implemented by IICA).
Participants at the opening ceremony included Alexis Pineda, Panamanian Deputy Minister of Agricultural Development; Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA; Adolfo Campos, Head of the Political and Press Section of the EU Delegation to Panama; Germán Zappani, Head of Operations of the IDB Office in Panama; Adoniram Sánchez, FAO Subregional Coordinator; Arnulfo Gutiérrez, Director General of Panama’s Institute for Agricultural Innovation and President of FONTAGRO; Eugenia Saini, Executive Secretary of FONTAGRO; and Gerardo Escudero, IICA Representative in Panama.
Dr Colmenarez said, “Latin America and the Caribbean are regions with a wide range of crops and livestock which are farmed – particularly coffee and cocoa – and are sensitive to the diverse climate, high biodiversity, and fragile environments. Biological Control is a key strategy for pest and disease management in the context of Sustainable Agricultural Production.
“The forum was an opportunity to exchange information among the different country representatives that participated, international organizations and donors’ agencies, reviewing synergies and potential lines of collaboration to increase the use of Biological Control in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“It was highlighted the CABI´s work under programmes such as the global PlantwisePlus, the CABI BioProtection Portal where we are linking with partners to help farmers reduce crop losses due to pests and diseases and incentivizing the use of more sustainable methods of control.
“This work involves encouraging farmers to an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach – which makes greater use of safer-to-use and environmentally friendly biological control agents – to mitigate the threats to livelihoods and food security.”
Pests which affect crops in Latin America and the Caribbean include the sugarcane borer, coffee berry borer and brown rot and witches’ broom on cocoa.
Deputy Minister Pineda said the forum was a chance for Latin American and Caribbean countries to provide decision-makers with technical and scientific elements to form policies to reduce uncertainty around the supply – as well as the risks – posed by the use of agrochemicals.
He said, “Bioinput use continues to trend upward in response to the high costs of agricultural chemicals and their impact on public health and on the environment-, climate- and safety-related trade requirements imposed by countries.”
The keynote address was given by Mark Trimmer, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Dunham Trimmer, a company specializing in the bioinput market. He explained that these products are one of the bioeconomy pathways enjoying the most growth and an area in which Latin America and the Caribbean stands to be a leading international player.
Mr Trimmer said, “Bioinput use is on the rise at annual rates of close to 13% for biocontrol agents, biostimulants and biofertilizers, far outpacing growth rates in traditional agriculture. Specifically, biocontrol agents represent 60% of the total bioinput market.
“In turn, LAC biocontrol production is valued at USD $1.231 billion or almost 20% of the total, making the region the third largest producer in the world and the one with the highest growth rates.”
He explained that by 2029 Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to have cornered 29% of the total biocontrol market, making it the leading region in the global market, ahead of the United States and Canada.
The participants in the forum agreed that Latin America and the Caribbean has certain comparative advantages in promoting bioinputs as a strategic technology for agricultural transformation.
However, their actual use will require countries to promote science, technology and innovation; to formulate and implement regulations; to facilitate the implementation of the appropriate financial instruments and to enable market promotion and production investment.
Adoniram Sánchez, FAO Subregional Coordinator in Mesoamerica, said, “Our aim is to contribute to building agrifood systems that can satisfy the demand for food, without endangering the health of our planet.
“This forum marked an important step on this path, providing specific recommendations, based on a detailed analysis of the use of and potential for investment in bioinputs in the region.”
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