Farmer Voices: Santiago del Solar, Argentina

Our goal at Farming First is not only to unite the numerous stakeholders in global agriculture, such as scientists, development organisations and the private sector, but also to make the disparate voices of farmers around the world heard. Argentinean agronomist and farmer, Santiago del Solar, accompanied Farming First to the Rio+20 negotiations, to take part in the great debate. His previous experience as President of Maizar, the Argentine Corn and Sorghum Association, and his daily work running his family farms in the province of Buenos Aires, producing corn, soybeans, wheat and barley, made him a valuable spokesperson at the World Summit, and able to express the issues most important to farmers in the field.

In a recent article in La Nacion, Santiago documented his experience at Rio+20. Pleased that the world recognises farmers will be the ones to eradicate hunger, and with the wide acceptance for all types of agriculture, from traditional to modern practices, he commented:

Hunger is not an insoluble punishment, it is quite the opposite. With political action and the correct distribution of resources, we can get out of this great disaster.

Citing the FAO’s prediction that it will cost 30 billion USD per year to eradicate hunger, Santiago also pointed out that this figure pales into insignificance, against the 300 billion USD dedicated to agricultural subsidies, or indeed the trillions of dollars given over to banking bailouts.

It is also true that hunger is a much more complicated issue than one that can simply be solved with money. Local initiatives such as Argentina’s Nutricion 10 Hambre Cero are more along the lines of thought expressed at Rio+20.

What can Argentina do specifically in the face of this global challenge?

First we must realise we are one of the countries the world considers able to increase food production. Today, Argentina is capable of feeding 410 million people, and has population of only 40 million. But we are still so far from deploying all the large-scale, sustainable tools we have. Agricultural output in Argentina cannot and must not stagnate. In 2050 the world population will reach 9 billion and we all have the right to adequate food. We must be one of the countries that answers this 9 billion people question.

Farming First also interviewed Santiago on site at Rio+20, where he talked about the different farming practices used in Argentina, and how collaboration will be the answer to solving the global challenge of hunger. Watch more expert interviews at www.farmingfirst.tv.

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