06.02.2014

Ministers Barañao and Casamiquela visited the INTA Castelar

The ministers of Science and Agriculture, Lino Barañao and Carlos Casamiquela respectively, were received by the INTA’s president, Francisco Anglesio, at the institute’s head offices in Castelar.

Ministers Barañao and Casamiquela visited the INTA Castelar

Anglesio, Barañao and Casamiquela. [Photograph: Courtesy of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing]

The ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, Dr. Lino Barañao and his colleague of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing, Agr. Eng. Carlos Casamiquela, were received by the president of the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), Agr. Eng. Francisco Anglesio at the head offices of the National Center of Agricultural Research (CNIA) of the institute, in Castelar, a locality of the province of Buenos Aires. The meeting helped them assess the value of the national system of science, technology and innovation. In that regard, it was stressed that the national budget of the ministry of Science was raised to more than ARS4,960 million. Within that context, the visit to the CNIA made it possible to weigh the results of said policy aimed particularly at the agricultural and agroindustrial field.

The ministers agreed on the need of transcending technological development in order to transform technological innovation, placed at the service of a better quality of life. This proposal, they pointed out, implies that advances should be made on the processes of organization and in the so called “soft technologies” and the administration of new productive systems so that the small and medium-sized companies sector may have its own opportunities for development. “The INTA is an unequaled institution in matters of agricultural research”, sustained Barañao, for whom although “the CONICET has had an important development in basic research, today there is no transcending development which does not imply interdiscipline and articulation among different areas of knowledge”.

In that regard, the minister of Science considered that the visit to Castelar helped them to “assess not only how the INTA has grown in relation to technological power and human resources, but also how imbricated the whole system of technology is, the exploitation of all the financing instruments accomplished by our Ministry and the quality of the projects being developed”. On that same line, the minister Casamiquela sustained that, indeed, "Argentine scientific development is a policy of State”, which was evidenced by two relevant political circumstances: on the one hand, the creation of the ministries of Science and Agriculture, “spaces which now have the importance they deserved where we can discuss strategies and processes of research and institutional transformation”. On the other hand, “the government has been quite clear in understanding that knowledge is the engine to transform peoples, in the economic and social dynamics, and there has been a transcending political decision in terms of betting on science and technology and helping all organisms to improve their budget and capacity to incorporate people”, said the ministry of Agriculture.

In turn, Casamiquela considered that “we have succeeded in making society as a whole comprehend the importance this has in terms of investment for the development and future of the country. Young people are the key in this transformation process. Today’s visit is about being able to improve this dialogue and we are setting a future agenda between both ministries”.

“We are truly honored and glad to receive you in our house”, expressed Anglesio. Regarding the visit of the ministers, he said “it is evident we are bonded with profound public policies which, with innovation and development, place our science be on the cutting edge, and its achievements are at plain sight”. For the INTA’s president, this meeting reflected “the planned path which has always united us and which strengthens us to keep up working for objectives which are shared by our ministries, with whom we have to strongly articulate the policies to stand for the producer, to stand for the chain of value, to stand for its price, and, above all things, to stand for the Argentine products”.

The visit to the offices of INTA Castelar included stops at the institutes of Biotechnology, Climate and Water and at the “Ing. Agr. Arturo Ragonese” Botanic Garden. Along with Anglesio, the national director of the institute, Agr. Eng. Eliseo Monti; the national coordinator of Research and Development, Dr. Norma Pensel; and the directors of the research centers of the CNIA were also present to receive the ministers. The retinue of the Ministry of Science was completed by the secretary of Planning and Policies on Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, Dr. Ruth Ladenheim; the secretary of Scientific Technological Articulation, Dr. Alejandro Ceccatto; and the executive coordinator of the Scientific Technological Cabinet, Dr. Alejandro Mentaberry. For Agriculture, in turn, there were the head of cabinet, Héctor Espina and the secretary of Political Institutional Coordination and Agricultural Emergency, Lic. Javier Rodríguez.

A policy in perspective

From its three famous Nobel Prize Winners –Bernardo Houssay, Luis Leloir and César Milstein– to the researchers who today have international recognition for their achievements, Argentina has an excellent scientific tradition. However, the country lived different times of institutional emptying which conspired against national scientific development and caused an exodus of professionals who left the country. But since the creation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation by the end of the year 2007, Argentina experienced a substantial change in the policies of scientific promotion. In fact, between the year 2008 and this current year, the national budget aimed at its activities raised from over ARS1,130 million to a little bit above ARS4,960 million.

In turn, through the RAICES Programme (Network of Argentine Researchers and Scientifics Abroad), implemented by the Ministry of Science, 1,030 scientists and technologists were repatriated, who applied their knowledge in different state structures. Among many interesting cases, we may mention the story of Fernando Carrari, who returned to the country thanks to this programme and, after joining the INTA, was one of the scientists who sequenced the tomato’s genome, a highly important finding published in Nature magazine last year

Between 2009 and 2012, the Ministry of Science assigned through the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion (the Agency) more than ARS2,737 million to finance projects of research and development, modernization of equipment, improvements of infrastructure and the incorporation of human resources, among others. A similar investment was made on the INTA, which assignments increased each year since 2003, reaching the highest budget of its whole history, which today amounts to ARS2,300 million yearly.

That  spirit of change was summarized by the Nation’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in June 2011: “In the collective imaginary, science was seen as a distant thing, something that had nothing to do with everyday life of the individuals. We are changing that paradigm, because we have begun to connect with facts –in practical terms, with resources, with results– science with economic growth and with development of industrialization of our country”.

On the other hand, the country designed different technological platforms, among which are currently in execution those pertaining to the Development of Nanobiomaterials and Devices for Diagnosis and Treatment, the Argentine Consortium of Genomic Technology, the Platform of Reprogrammed Human Stem Cells, the Argentine Center of Biocomputing and the Center for the Automatization of Software Engineering. At the same time, Argentina has 29 financing instruments which are administered by the Agency aimed at promoting research and development of small and medium-sized companies, encouraging the creation of new technology-based companies and the incorporation of technology in productive processes.

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Anglesio, Barañao and Casamiquela. [Photograph: Courtesy of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing]

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