New Minister of Agriculture: Antonio Walker, a minister with great challenges ...

In the cabinet presented by the future President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, highlights the appointment of the Minister of Agriculture, José Antonio Walker Prieto, not only because it comes from the independent world, but because that portfolio assumes a leader linked to fruit producers and exporters .

The new maximum authority of Agriculture was president for more than a decade of Fruséptima, and in May of 2010 was chosen to direct the National Federation of Fruit Producers (FEDEFRUTA), succeeding Rodrigo Echeverría.

Minister Walker has great challenges in his portfolio. The great majority self-imposed, because it was the minister himself who helped define the guidelines for the field of agriculture in President Piñera's Government Program.

Among the main objectives and measures is to implement the "National Policy of Rural and Agricultural Development, to equalize the opportunities with the urban world to the year 2026". To this end, it is proposed to implement a definition of rurality based on the OECD criteria; to form a Committee of Rural Development Ministers and a Technical Secretariat, to articulate and develop a work plan to be implemented in each ministry and at the level of each region; appoint an Advisory Committee of the Council of Ministers of Rural Development, made up of people from the public and private sectors; and create an External Monitoring Observatory on the implementation, progress and results of this new rural development policy.

The second objective is "Ensure the availability of water to boost the development of the sector", and the main measures are to restore the legal certainty of the ownership of water rights; increase surface area and irrigation security, with emphasis on technified irrigation; promote the National Plan of Regulation and Reservoirs, and advance in the quantification of underground aquifers.

The third objective of work for agriculture is "Support rural family businesses", strengthening the regularization of land titles, improving the programs of INDAP, especially the PRODESAL, and incorporating new mechanisms of associativity and collaboration among small farmers.

Another objective of the new government for agriculture is "Improve the competitiveness of agricultural SMEs", and for this he proposes various measures, such as modernizing financial products for medium-sized farmers through Banco Estado and commercial banking; implement factoring facilitation systems; the use of agricultural insurance for annual crops and price insurance; promote the use of new technologies to support production processes and advice on marketing; and incorporate measures to the Statute of the Agricultural Worker.

The fifth objective to be addressed by the future minister will be "Deepen the integration to the world", promoting the opening of new markets and effective FTAs, especially in the case of India, in order to follow the path initiated with China; strengthen the SAG through the creation of a Normative Streamlining Committee; fully implement the SICEX Exports platform and the electronic certification of the SAG; promote the export of niche products, with special emphasis on organic agriculture; enhance agricultural and rural tourism; and promote a long port law that considers the food sector as sensitive items.

The last objective associated with agriculture is "Introduce greater competition in the agricultural sector and modernize the institutional framework of the sector", perfecting the law of sample and countersamples; strengthen the role of the National Economic Prosecutor's Office in agricultural matters; move towards a new Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the institutionalization of the Food Safety Control Agency.

In the agricultural sector, his appointment was received with optimism and some representatives made it public in the media, such as Ricardo Ariztía, of the National Society of Agriculture (SNA), who was pleased because he is "a man who knows very well the needs of agriculture and the challenges of our sector, "adding that" Antonio is a person who likes to work in the field and believes strongly in associativity, in the contribution of agriculture to the development of the regions, and the modernization of our activity". Luis Schmidt, president of Fedefruta, described minister Walker as "one of ours", wishing him the greatest success "in a task that is not easy at all, with many challenges".

The future minister Walker not only has an outstanding trajectory gremial leading the sector maule and national fruit, but that his seal has been focused on the modernization of the orchards, the reconversion, the associativity between producers, and especially in the promotion of the model of direct export

Source: Martín Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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