A New Mexico State University delegation visited the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in Costa Rica this spring to renew and expand the university’s commitment to developing sustainable agriculture across the Americas.
NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu and Rolando A. Flores Galarza, dean of NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, led the NMSU delegation during the three-day visit to IICA headquarters in San José, Costa Rica, in April. IICA is a specialized agriculture agency for the Inter-American System that supports efforts from 34 member-states, including the United States, to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being in the Americas.
The visit served as an opportunity to strengthen an existing agreement between NMSU and IICA.
“The exposure that NMSU will have with this relationship with IICA in all 34 countries in the Americas will have positive impact that will benefit New Mexico’s agriculture and NMSU,” Flores Galarza said.
In 2019, NMSU signed a memorandum of understanding with IICA to collaborate on research, education and agricultural extension initiatives related to digital agriculture, bioeconomy, carbon management, climate change and rural socio-economic development.
The visit, delayed by several years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, included a meeting with IICA Director Manuel Otero, a two-day joint international workshop and culminated with a new signed commitment.
NMSU and IICA agreed to promote a hemispheric summit of international scope on major sustainable development issues and support the development of sustainable agriculture through state-of-the-art technology, modern digital tools, artificial intelligence, carbon management and climate change action.
IICA and NMSU will also develop a hemispheric internship platform that includes visiting lecturers from both institutions, extension courses and educational practicums in priority areas, including bioeconomy and agribusiness.
To meet digital agriculture goals, NMSU and IICA will facilitate youth capacity development, assist in bridging the digital divide between urban and rural areas and use digital technologies to foster agricultural transformation.
NMSU and IICA also pledged to build awareness for bioeconomy and its potential in agriculture and rural territories, promote bio-entrepreneurship, new biofuel-related pharmaceutical products, medicinal plants, indigenous crops for soil regeneration, the use of waste and preservatives, and support for bioeconomy-based policies.
The NMSU delegation also included Leslie Cervantes, the chancellor’s chief of staff; Sherry Kollmann, vice chancellor for Digital Learning Initiatives; Manoj K. Shukla, professor of environmental soil physics and director of the Aggies Go Global; and Mario Allegri, who holds the Gerald Thomas Chair at NMSU.
The delegation also visited CATIE, the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center in Turrialba, Costa Rica, to formalize a plan on student exchange. NMSU has long-standing ties with CATIE and has had faculty exchange over the years.