Uruguay’s Agro en Punta Event: Forging a Path of Innovation and Sustainability in Agriculture

President Luis Lacalle Pou and several ministers were present at the inauguration of the first edition of Uruguay’s agro-export fair.
Publication date: 05/02/2024

In the heart of Punta del Este, Uruguay celebrated the first edition of Agro en Punta. This agro-export fair marked a milestone in promoting the agricultural and livestock sector. Inaugurated by Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou and key figures of the Uruguayan government, the fair was the perfect setting to highlight the importance of the industry in the country’s economic and social development and highlight Uruguay’s commitment to technological innovation and sustainable agricultural practices.

“We are facing the real locomotive of the national economy,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Omar Paganini, who, together with the Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Fernando Mattos, opened the meeting.

“An increasingly richer productive fabric, accompanied by economic, institutional and social stability, has resulted in more investment, employment, added value and growth. However, with the difficulties that we all know about, such as the water crisis and the pandemic, we are facing a thriving reality”, Paganini assured.

Fernando Mattos’ words echoed the same line. The Minister focused on the resilience and adaptation capacity of the Uruguayan agricultural sector in the face of global challenges. He also stressed the need to adapt to climate change and the importance of continuing to develop technology to maintain competitiveness.

“Our agriculture has great diversity, making it a heterogeneous set of activities and production chains, all of which are necessary. It is a dynamic and important sector. We must continue reaching more markets because they mean more opportunities for Uruguayans, more jobs, greater international insertion,” mentioned Mattos, who highlighted Uruguay’s commitment to global food security.

“More than 10% of the world’s population suffers from hunger, so we are committed to contributing. Uruguay is a reference country in terms of quality, safety, and sustainability of its production process,” he said.

Both ministers agreed on the vision of an innovative Uruguay, which seeks to lead in bioeconomy and sustainability while maintaining its commitment to quality and safety in production.

Agro en Punta marks a milestone in promoting Uruguay’s agricultural exports and operates as a meeting place for producers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and government representatives searching for modern, productive, and sustainable agriculture. With more than 84 markets opened during the current administration and 95 goals in the pipeline, the future of Uruguayan agriculture looks promising.

In Paganini’s words, Uruguay is heading towards a “second transformation,” to become an increasing focus of innovation in the bioeconomy. This event clearly indicates the country’s direction to strengthen its economy and fulfill its global responsibility regarding sustainability and food security.

Sustainability is critical to attracting productive investment

In a world where sustainability has become a priority, Uruguay is emerging as a benchmark for innovation and environmental commitment, concluded the speakers at the first Agro en Punta panel: the Minister of Environment, Robert Bouvier, the Executive Director of Uruguay XXI, Sebastián Risso, the Director of the Debt Management Unit of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Herman Kamil, and the IDB economist for Uruguay, Marisol Rodríguez Chatruc, who discussed Uruguay’s approach to environmental policies and sustainable financing.

Bouvier highlighted Uruguay’s commitment to sustainable development that encompasses environmental, social, and economic aspects. He noted the importance of maintaining high ecological standards and appropriate regulation, contributing significantly to Uruguay’s production value and economic growth.

“We are emphasizing economic growth, but without losing sight of the importance of achieving a cleaner Uruguay with a better standard of living from an environmental point of view,” said the Minister.

Along the same lines, Herman Kamil, Director of the Debt Management Unit at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, highlighted the government’s priority in actions for mitigation and adaptation to climate change, established in the 2020 Budget Law.

Uruguay innovated in the financial sphere by issuing a global sovereign bond that links the country’s cost of borrowing to the ability to achieve or over-achieve the environmental goals committed to the Paris Agreement.

“We incorporated positive financial incentives into the bond that we believe impact behavior,” explained Kamil, highlighting Uruguay’s statistical infrastructure for reporting, monitoring, and verifying emissions as a global example.

Similarly, Sebastián Risso, Director of Uruguay XXI, said that sustainability is “Uruguay’s main letter of introduction to the world.” He highlighted Uruguay’s commitment to environmental protection and its leadership in producing and using renewable energies and producing sustainable food, which positions it favorably in the international arena.

“We are very well positioned in this race,” Risso stated about Uruguay’s place in its performance associated with ESG (environmental, social, and governance) factors, highlighting the country’s leadership in democracy and transparency in the Americas.

On this subject, Kamil added that “how countries use or abuse natural resources, air, water or land, is increasingly influencing investors’ decisions, both in bonds and in foreign direct investment.”

In this sense, the representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Uruguay, Marisol Rodríguez Chatruc, acknowledged the pride and learning that accompanies Uruguay in its climate ambition and care for the environment represents, a characteristic that, according to the expert, makes it stand out in the region. “The work we are doing in this area with Uruguay not only has a local impact, it has a demonstration effect for the entire region of Latin America and the Caribbean, and even for the world,” she said.

Uruguay demonstrates that balancing economic growth and environmental protection is possible, serving as a model for other countries in the quest for sustainable development.