"The low-emission production proposal is one for which we have the ambition to extend to all agricultural sub-sectors. We are moving in that direction. NAMAs are one thing, but we also have other strategies that drive agriculture towards reducing inputs - and thus costs - and an improvement in yields. Interestingly, all of this in turn leads to lower emissions."
Strategies can be very interesting, but without the productive sector, nothing can be done
The Coffee NAMA has given the coffee sector and the country results that are tangible and demonstrable through different measurements. But for Ana Cristina Quirós, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, having opened the space for a national discussion about the need to produce in harmony with the environment is one of the most important achievements. Its relevance, she explains, lies in the fact that it allowed the sector - and not only the coffee sector, but the agricultural sector in general - to conceive itself as a proactive actor when thinking about the problem of climate change and thus be able to contribute to the country's project for the decarbonization of the economy.
Without a committed productive sector, nothing can be done.
As a representative of the public sector, Quirós' confidence in policies and their instruments to advance both macro and sectoral agendas is clear. However, the Vice Minister is quick to point out the essential nature of the engagement of the productive sector. -No matter how strong the intention of the institutional structures, nothing can be done without the productive sector. We can come up with very interesting strategies... at the end of the day it is the people in the productive sector who will implement them.
The issue of awareness-raising
Quirós, far from seeing the awareness-raising of the productive sector towards environmental objectives as a process of convincing, understands it as one in which the productive sector is invited to participate from the beginning. And this is done to listen to their concerns and needs, their interests and possibilities and, together, to devise viable proposals for their reality. When there is ownership and participation in the construction of solutions, there is identification, and this guarantees a much higher degree of commitment. For this reason, she believes that this would be the first piece of advice she would give to a counterpart from another country interested in implementing an agricultural NAMA: to not build a proposal from a desk and, on the contrary, to seek the representativeness of the sectors and the mechanisms for working together.
It is the people of the productive sector who take the most credit in achieving the objectives of the Coffee NSP. But the technical teams of the institutions did an arduous job in taking the message to those who needed to be reached, in co-creating to achieve the necessary commitment and implement the necessary actions.
Quirós highlights the mystique of the technical and extension staff of MAG and ICAFE in conjunction with MINAE to achieve, first, a single articulated vision with an adequate balance of perspectives and then, the implementation of actions. This was a team effort resulting from an increasingly better understanding between the agricultural and environmental sectors about where we want to take national production. It was also a true public-private partnership in which we all won as a society.
We must also acknowledge the cooperation that has been entrusted to support this effort. Although these are long processes that do not end when a given project (in this case the Coffee NSP) closes, their resources are fundamental for the methodologies, good practices and approaches to be duly demonstrated and thus initiate processes that in the medium and long term can continue to advance on their own.
There is room for further improvement
Reflecting on any challenges that the Coffee NSP has not been able to address as she would have liked, Quirós concludes that the existing conditions in the country and in the coffee sector were such that more ambitious goals could have been set.
Looking at it through a positive lens, she emphasizes the importance of the fact that the process has been initiated and, above all, that it has shown that there is the necessary will to make the transitions. Both the institutional technical teams and the people in the productive sector demonstrated this. A precedent has been set to give continuity to what has been started and then, yes, to reach much more ambitious goals.
We are on the right track
In this first worldwide agricultural NAMA, the Costa Rican coffee sector gained more of the prestige it already had and attention was once again focused on Costa Rican coffee, not only for its quality, but also for its new environmental added value.
Quirós sees the potential that this exposure has in the medium and long term, not only for the coffee sector, but also by opening the way for other NAMAs from other exporting subsectors that, acting as a kind of ambassadors, will continue to position Costa Rica as a country capable of adapting its productive practices to achieve an economy that is at the same time dynamic and low in emissions.
-The low-emission production proposal is one for which we have the ambition to extend to all agricultural sub-sectors. We are moving in that direction. NAMAs are one thing, but we also have other strategies that drive agriculture towards reducing inputs - and thus costs - and an improvement in yields. Interestingly, all of this in turn leads to lower emissions.