Uruguayan by blood, global by heart

Pérez del Castillo at GCARD2.

Mr Carlos Pérez del Castillo, a distinguished diplomat with top international positions in his CV both for his home country Uruguay and at international arenas such World Bank, UN, SELA and other regional and global institutions, is currently chairing the Consortium Board of the CGIAR. CGIAR is one of the organizers of the GCARD2. Usually surrounded hoards of people, when I sighted him he was sitting alone outside of one of the parallel sessions. “I can’t afford to miss this opportunity,”  I thought to myself and immediately approached him. Incredibly friendly Mr Pérez del Castello kindly agreed to answer to my questions.

–        Me: Mr Pérez del Castello, I personally was amazed to see such tremendous achievements of Uruguay in terms of economic growth and the sense of optimism one can feel in the faces of the Uruguayan youth. What do you think was the key moments for this success?

–        Mr Pérez del Castello: First of all, it is related to the rising food-commodity prices on the international market and the realization its potential by the Uruguayan policy makers. This triggered investment flow into the country too and for the last few years, crop production, such as wheat and soya, tripled and livestock production doubled.

–        Me: So the environment for investment in the country is welcoming?

–        Mr Pérez del Castello: Yes very much so. In fact the existence export tax of 35% in Argentina, caused Argentinean farmers jump across the border and start their farming in Uruguayan land.

–        Me: When did this U-turn start, if I may call it so?

–        Mr Pérez del Castello: It has been a while now, 5-6 years I think.

–        Me: In the video-clip shown in the opening ceremony, it was said that there is 20 dollar return from every single dollar invested into agricultural research. How realistic is that?

–        Mr Pérez del Castello: It is true that every dollar put into the agricultural research has 20 dollars return in this country. CGIAR countries’ average investment return indicator is 9 dollars.

–        Me: Where do you think such huge conferences will lead us?

–        Mr Pérez del Castello: Well, it is the sign of acknowledgment of food security issues at the international level.

–        Me: Why do you think donor countries should invest into agricultural research beyond their boundaries?

–        Mr Pérez del Castello: Reduction of the poverty and ensuring their own long term food security.

–        Me: If there is one message you wanted to convey to youngsters representing YPARD at GCARD2 what would that be?

–        Mr Pérez del Castello: Keep going, keep working hard. If there are 1 billion hungry people out there, there are opportunities for you. Keep researching and come out with solutions.

I thanked him and he rushed back to his busy schedule.

Blogpost by Firdavs Kabilov, one of the GCARD2 social reporters.

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