Delegates from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture wrapped up a three-day tour of New Mexico State University last week, completing a visit that further strengthened ties between IICA and NMSU, which are working to improve and develop sustainable agriculture across the Americas.
NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu and Rolando A. Flores Galarza, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, welcomed a delegation that included IICA Director General Manuel Otero and other IICA representatives to the Las Cruces campus on Oct. 12. IICA is a specialized agriculture agency for the Inter-American System that supports efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being in the Americas.
The visit included tours of NMSU’s agricultural district and two nearby science centers, research presentations by faculty and students, and meetings with various NMSU leaders. It also featured the signing of a declaration to reinforce a 2019 memorandum of understanding between NMSU and IICA.
Under the earlier agreement, NMSU and IICA pledged to collaborate on research, education and agricultural extension initiatives related to digital agriculture, bioeconomy, carbon management, climate change and rural socio-economic development.
“We are delighted we had the opportunity to continue strengthening the strategic alliance between IICA and NMSU through the College of ACES,” Flores Galarza said. “The global presence of NMSU and our college are critical for New Mexico, given the interdependence of agriculture and the global food systems. These agreements show our teaching, research and extension efforts in the College of ACES are up to speed with the most important needs in the agriculture or world.”
Arvizu commended IICA for leading efforts to develop sustainable agriculture throughout the Americas. He added that the organization’s mission aligns with many of NMSU’s strategic goals.
“Working with an organization such as IICA is strategically valuable to NMSU because it furthers our priorities around agricultural research and allows us to work collaboratively with other institutions to ensure the development of sustainable high-tech agriculture for the future,” Arvizu said. “Our collaboration will continue to grow and lead to important new solutions that will modernize agriculture across the Americas.”
Earlier this year, Arvizu was part of a delegation from NMSU that visited IICA’s headquarters in Costa Rica. The group included Flores Galarza and ACES alumnus Mario Allegri, who holds the Gerald W. Thomas Chair in Food Production and Natural Resources.
In the declaration signed Oct. 13, NMSU and IICA pledged to co-host an international summit on the future of sustainable agriculture in arid and semi-arid regions – a gathering NMSU will host next September. NMSU and IICA also agreed to continue to work collaboratively to develop cutting-edge technologies to improve sustainable agriculture through better livestock and agriculture practices and carbon management.
The declaration, known as the “Las Cruces Declaration,” also calls for creating the “Strategic Alliance of the Chihuahuan Desert,” a project between IICA, NMSU and the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua.
“The alliance between NMSU and IICA will transform and improve the quality of life for people living in rural areas across the Americas,” Otero said. “This is why we are so excited and committed to transforming the ‘Las Cruces Declaration’ into concrete actions.”