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Technology to combat global challenges

By Yoav Cerralbo
October 19, 2009

There is a theory that the best way to tackle the environmental challenges plaguing the world is to revert to a world that uses less technology.

Argentine Minister of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation Lino Baranao sees it the other way around.

"What we need is more technology in order to make it sustainable," he said.

"The demands for food, water and energy will increase dramatically in the next decades so there is no other way to answer the demand than with new technological developments," he added.

Baranao was in town for a two-day visit recently to discuss with his Korean counterparts different avenues that could be used to improve life through technology at a bilateral level, most notably information communication technology, biotechnology and ways to enhance or use renewable energies.

"Since the resources are limited we have to innovate and use new forms of renewable energy and to improve the nutritious value of our crops in order to produce more foods in a minimal space," Baranao said. "Those challenges can only be answered through international cooperation."

Argentina is one of the world leaders in farming.

The agricultural industry in this Latin American country has found efficient ways to produce wheat and soybean using new technological advances.

One example is by not turning the soil, which in turn does not cause erosion.

Using a special machine made in Argentina, Baranao explained that after the harvest, farmers replant for the next season without rotating or treating the soil.

"So this is a clear example where technology has provided the basis of better competitiveness for one of our productive chains," he said.

It is no secret that the world is heading towards a food crisis. It is also no secret that there are more people sharing this planet than before. Putting two and two together means one big challenge ahead for human kind.

"We have to keep improving the efficiency of our production, we cannot move into the forests, the places where its suitable for agriculture are limited even in Argentina, so that's why we need new information technology like satellite information to monitor humidity, the need to minimize chemicals used in farming," he said.

New advancements in information technology and biotechnology, the improvement of crops and nanotechnology and the use of lighter materials for the production of engines are ways countries can work together to bring green into greenery.

"We have some positive experiences in Argentina and there is potential for improvement that can only be worked on through bilateral cooperation," Baranao pointed out.

Baranao is also looking at the possibility of introducing e-government solutions to Argentina which would make administration more efficient and have a clear impact on the lives of its citizens.

"We are also looking at the possibilities of using tidal energy for our needs," he said. "We plan on starting to fund that particular type of process."

Argentina is blessed with drastic changes in the currents off the coast of the Patagonia region which is an ideal condition to harness the power of the ocean and its seas.

"The key to success is selection and focus," Baranao said. "So we will focus on ICT, biotechnology and renewable energy."

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