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Opinion: simple policies offer best solutions for agriculture

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Opinion: simple policies offer best solutions for agriculture

By Eric Viramontes, president of VISER

Eric-Viramontes-292x300-150x150We have all had those moments on a long flight, wide-awake with no desire to think or get ahead at work on the computer or do anything. The perfect solution is solitaire, a fascinating game in such situations because it doesn't require much thought, only logic.

The game reminds me of how, at times, one should view the design of public policies. Just like the card game, there is disorder that needs some sort of logical, chronological or practical accomodation.

Personally, I consider myself a fan of strategy. I love brainstorming, looking for alternative options, ordering events and the ecstacy of putting theories into practice.

There are times when the strategies we design are so complex that the public policies that attempt to provide solutions end up generating a bigger problem.

I love to analyze these situations and to search for solutions to these puzzles. Looking at every angle and after wracking my brain on various intertwined routes, I come to the conclusion that the solution is the most simple and apparent.

Certainly the problems of our nations and, in particular, our farms are complex. But the reality is that we don't have the resources, the time or the disposition for complex strategies. Maybe simple solutions are best.

The fascinating thing about my lifestyle is the ability to travel, meet new public personalities, chat and sometimes debate policies. But on a few memorable occassions, I have crossed paths with a public figure that has an excellent view of what to do in a simple, practical way.

Recently I was in the Dominican Republic, a country full of fascinating people, agriculture and natural beauty. This is a nation full of opportunity but at the same time, full of challenges and threats.

During one of my first visits, I ran across an official that from day one offered me his hand and a smile. The official lead the Center for Exports and Investments of the Dominican Republic.

In our last conversation, he told me his vision for public policy. After outlining his country's main limitations, he gave a simple and chronological way to improve exports and attract investment in the agricultural sector.

His analysis was refreshing. His country has the land, climate and geographical location to produce competitive food products for the international market. Additionally, they have the logistical infrastructure to do it correctly.

His thinking was to activate the sector by attracting investment and technology to make Dominican farming more efficient, competitive and profitable for advantageous exports. This would include strong investment in training people, promoting human development and along the same lines, forming world-class agricultural businesses.

His policies were simple and in my opinion, very accurate. My only question was, why has the government not provided more funding for research and development to achieve such goals?

On the other hand, there is the similar case of an official from my country, Mexico. This man now leads the Trade and Export Promotion Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (ASERCA / SAGARPA).

He has insisted on creating promotional tools and communication to allow certainty for agrictultural exports, including investment in marketing campaigns. These tools allow for better international positioning of Mexican products. This official has also been determined in attempting to create new and innovative strategies with agricultural organizations to lead impactful action that lasts.

He has in his hands a segment of the Mexican industry that is worth US$20 billion a year in exports. The same as my Dominican friend, his politics are simple. In contrast, the Mexican government has granted him US$40 million for his mission.

This third case is of a group of officials involved in business with the "Pacific Alliance." Firm promoters of the alliance are the Mexican subsecretary of external trade and a secretary of economy.

In current treaties, there is enormous potential that could put countries and emerging economies under equal conditions and create an impressive commercial block. It is simple but brilliant.

The "Pacific Alliance," from the beginning has seemed to me to be the trade agreement with the most potential for my country and others involved (Chile, Colombia and Peru).

But there are also highly complex agreements like attempts to negotiation the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Mexico would like to join this alliance of big players and seemingly unequal conditions. The treaty is an extremely complex way to formulate a block with all of the Pacific powers, including countries like the United States, China and Japan, which seek big benefits without necessarily being equitable.

Once again I present evidence that simple is better and I give my appreciation to officials that demonstrate mastery as competitors and confidently present simple proposals without confusing the public with complex solutions that, at the end of the day, we all know are a smoke screen.

These men know that you simply have to look for favorable actions and give positive results.

Follow Eric Viramontes on Twitter at @ervs_viramontes.

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