Sustainability with style: Smart Agriculture lessons from Uruguay

Self-sufficiency is linked with sustainability. Uruguay, a living example of quality of life improvement with better political and social sustainability adopts smart agriculture for sustainable development.  Popularly known as “Uruguay es la vaca y el puerto” (“Uruguay is the cow and the port”) is a leading exporter of livestock and agriculture products in world market. The sustainability foundation stone laying dates back around 400 years back with Armdnds revolution “cow introduction” in the country.  Now with a 2nd highest human development index, the country basically relies on agricultural commodity export. The whole achievement is due to innovative R&D programs that developed environmental friendly technologies while sustaining natural resources and maneuvered to earn foreign exchange.

Uruguayan agriculture contributes roughly 10% to the country’s GDP and is thus a cornerstone for the national economy. The country invests around 2% of its GDP in agricultural research and stands out as one of the highest in recovery rate globally with 100% of recovery rate per dollar invested in agriculture and livestock. In addition to investments in R&D, Uruguay has expanded its marketing systems to benefit the small holder farmers and emphasized clean and green technologies. It has developed smart, efficient and sustainable energy systems. The life cycle analysis technologies in animal and crop breeding integrated with GIS based information systems and enhanced soil health programs has not only reduced the ecological footprint but sustained agricultural systems in Uruguay.  The innovative approaches of open air cattle breeding, livestock traceability system, large investments on animal health and expansion of markets have benefitted both small and large farmers.

Overall, smart agriculture through integration of crops and livestock has put Uruguay at the forefront of agriculture export: It is the 2nd highest exporter in wool seller & wood fibre pulps, 5th highest dairy product exporter, and 6th highest rice and beef exporter. This has not only developed the country’s GDP but provided better investment facilities in social schemes. The smart agriculture “Application of Knowledge throughout the Agriculture Sector” adoption has been achieved and led to strong partnership development at local, regional and global fora. The Global Conference on Agricultural Research for development “GCARD2” in 2012 at Punta del Este in Uruguay is live example for the strong partnership and importance of smart agriculture in Uruguay.

Blogpost by Yash, one of the GCARD2 social reporters.

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