Spain and Portugal, hand in hand to compete in corn production in the face of the challenges of a global market

Spain and Portugal, hand in hand to compete in corn production in the face of the challenges of a global market

Spain and Portugal corn highlights from the  second Iberian Corn Congress:

After two intense days of presentations, round tables and meetings between professionals, the II Iberian Corn Congress, organized by the Association of Maize Producers of Spain (AGPME) and the National Association of Maize and Sorghum Producers of Portugal (ANPROMIS), came to an end last Friday, March 24 with a more than positive assessment, which has more than met the expectations of its organizer Neves highlighted the important alliance between ANPROMIS and AGPME: “I leave a challenge to my Spanish colleagues, that we continue with this work and next year in Portugal we continue to strengthen this Congress, because only together will we achieve great things.”

Message picked up by José Luis Romeo: “We have the same objectives, the same interests and a very valuable product, we will continue to work together for the strength of this sector.”

The president of the Provincial Council of Huesca stressed the importance of the primary sector in the province: “It is important to convey the importance of the primary sector, at the social, economic, environmental level, that’s why I congratulate you for your work and for organizing such a large meeting.”

Finally, Esperanza Orellana defended the From the Farm to the Table strategy: “It is a toolbox, which has objectives, but also instruments; it has very important elements, such as biotechnology, which is an essential tool. The strategy must be taken as a whole, because it opens up many opportunities for the sector in terms of innovation, because you cannot face these challenges with your bare hands, technology is fundamental.”

Uncertainty before the CAP

The first round table, focused on “The Common Agricultural Policy”, was moderated by José María Castilla, Head of Office Asaja Bruelas, and intervened in it was attended by Clara Aguilera, MEP of the PSOE in Brussels, member of Comagri, and coordinator of Agriculture of the S&D Group, Juan Ignacio Zoido, MEP of the PP in Brussels.

The general feeling regarding the CAP is one of uncertainty and dissatisfaction, as the speakers have maintained, “a series of measures are being promoted from the Commission that do not prioritize primary production, measures that are being taken from the offices and not from the reality of the sector,” said Zoido, “no more restrictions can be placed on our farmers and that products.”

For her part, Clara Aguilera stressed the lack of competences of the Agriculture Council in the decisions that concern the sector, and that is an important problem, “if the competences in the regulation are 95% in the environment, we see our possibilities greatly diminished, because we are the ones who know the reality of agriculture and plant health”; in addition, she was critical of the bureaucratic aspects that farmers must endure Spanish and European; it is very important to be strong.”

Mazaly Aguilar pointed out that “the CAP is not designed for current times; it is not designed for the important premise that the field is absolutely necessary for the life of this planet; if the field does not produce, the city does not eat. We should be permanently on the side of farmers and ranchers. Agriculture and livestock, the first thing.”

Finally, Ángel Samper was hopeless with the current situation of agriculture and livestock due to the CAP. Likewise, he was very critical of the word sustainability, “we have to banish the word sustainability, because we have tarnished it; it is necessary to replace it with the word efficiency, in all terms: environmental, social and economic.”

Biotechnology and communication

Next, José Antonio López Guerrero, professor of Microbiology at the UAM, addressed “Biotechnology to feed the World.” In his presentation, he highlighted the benefits of biotechnology applied to the agri-food sector: higher yield of productions on less land, higher income for the farmer, improvement in quality, lower risk of loss of yield and improvement in soil conservation, among others.

“Transgenics are a potential, it is not an end in itself, they have the ability to address some of the problems of civilization that is reaching the ceiling of per capita viability, such as delayed maturation, resistance to fungi, bacteria, tolerance to water stress…”

Next, the table “Do we communicate well to society?”, moderated by Soledad de Juan, director of the Antama Foundation, focused on how it is communicating in the agri-food sector. It was attended by Elisa Plumed, president of APAE (Association of Agri-Food Journalists of Spain), Pablo Rodríguez Pinilla, director of Onda Agraria of Onda Cero and director of Directo al Grano at Grupo Cadena Media, Tiago Pinto, general secretary of ANPROMIS, and Javier Folch, director of AGPME and Asaja Aragón.

Javier Folch was resounding in saying “we do not know how to communicate; we still have to advance in communication and value everything positive that we generate and all our goodness”; he has also referred to certain information that harms the sector, “unfortunately negative news sells more and is at ease, being in many cases false, without scientific rigor and without providing real data. It is necessary to propose once and for all clear communication strategies from the sector, with positive messages, with data, with facts. Society has to know that what is done here complies with the best health guarantees in the world.”

Tiago Pinto stressed the importance of communication “inside” of the sector, but without forgetting communication “from outside”, but taking into account that unfortunately political power has a lot of influence in this sense, “the sector must be united, because together we are stronger and we will be able to send positive messages, which demonstrate the importance of our sector.”

A message of trust and belief in what the sector does is the one launched by Pablo Rodriguez Pinilla, “the sector has to believe in what it does, because it is the second sector that contributes the most GDP to Spain, that’s why we have to take out our chest, make an ambitious strategic plan of how we should communicate and under what formulas, relying on sectors that have Let’s look for formulas, believe in what we do and empower the Spain Brand.”

Elisa Plumed, said: “We are collecting what has been sown, which has been practically nothing; the agri-food sector has been dedicated to producing, and it has done very well, but the consumer has taken it for granted, as something normal, he does not think about where everything that comes to his pantry comes from, that is why we must have our own communication plan, active Denying costs much more than counting and arriving first.”

A globalized world

Prior to the closing, the round table “Markets and Globalization” took place, moderated by Jorge Neves, president of ANPROMIS, and attended by Esperanza Orellana, general director of Productions and Agricultural Markets of MAPA, Pedro Barato, president of Asaja Nacional, Diego Pazos, secretary general of AECEC (Spanish Association of Foreign Trade of Cereals) and Vicente E Esperanza Orellana showed her confidence in the sector, “I know she will be able to respond adequately to the challenges that arise; we have always been on her side, collecting her concerns; it is true that sometimes the changes generate uncertainty and alarm, but I manifest my total willingness to clarify and help in this challenge.”

The president of Asaja Nacional expressed his distrust in globalization, “I no longer believe in it,” and his dissatisfaction with agricultural policies, “an agrarian policy where there are restrictions and no solutions are given, it is terrible,” in addition to valuing the corn sector, “we have between Spain and Portugal around 600,000 hectares of corn of and from Spain it was a future of plowing, harvesting, collecting, selling… Let us design our future.”

Diego Pazos valued the sector: “In Spain and Portugal we produce 3 per 1,000 of corn in the world, high quality corn. In both countries, corn is the star grain, it is an important source of energy and protein, the crop that gives the most protein per hectare, after alfalfa and, of course, let’s not forget that the future of corn is with technification.”

Finally, Vicente Ebri sent a message of trust to the markets, “go to them, trust them, we are at your service, we are making purchase and sale contracts and we are always a good support.”

The Congress has left a very good taste in the mouth among all the attendees; it has shed light and shown tools and ways to face the new challenges. The organizers have summoned everyone to the next appointment, this time, again in Portugal.

After two days of Congress, Agpme and Anpromis will prepare a final document of considerations, petitions and conclusions, which will be transferred to the MAP and Brussels in order to be considered and taken into account in their corresponding forums for the sector.