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Argentina to boost farming sector with IDB assistance

Argentina, one of the world’s top four food exporters, will further boost sustainable growth of its agricultural sector by strengthening its innovation system for the development of new technologies, supporting small- and mid-sized producers, and implementing environmental sustainability improvements with a $170 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.

The loan will help the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria) to support the sector’s innovation system, increase its capacity to generate and transfer new technologies, products and processes, scale-up coverage of extension services, and focus more attention on small-scale producers.

The program is expected to help maintain high agricultural productivity rates and lead at least 40% of Argentine farmers to adopt INTA-supported technologies aimed at boosting the sustainable use of natural resources.

Some $88 million will be set aside to build up INTA’s research and development capacity, enhancing and improving its technical and scientific production. Another $17 million will be used to promote its contacts and integration with other public and private institutions, both local and foreign.

The program will devote $43 million to the diffusion of knowledge generated by improving technology transfer and extension processes. A special emphasis will be place on family-based agriculture in order to promote the use of technologies suitable for different regions, as well as the support local extension councils and research networks with civil society participation, including indigenous communities.

The IDB loan will also finance the construction of an INTA headquarters building to bring the senior management under a single roof, leading to major savings in office space leases and a 30 percent reduction in electricity costs. Additionally, the 29 existing management systems will be merged into five, improving access to information and leading savings in communications and transfer expenses.

The Argentine Government will provide an additional $43 million in local counterpart funds for the program.

The IDB loan is for a 25-year term, with a five-year grace period and a variable interest rate based on Libor.