When I returned to Ecuador upon completion of my master’s degree at Purdue I had a clear vision of what I wanted to accomplish with my degree. I wanted to work influencing the choices made by my country in the agricultural sector. Having worked in the government, previous to leaving the country, I thought I had an idea of what I was to expect of my roles and responsibilities. It did not take me long, as I settled in the Ministry of Agriculture, to realize that my role and the work dynamics in the National Bank of Development would be very different from my new assignment as the National Director of Agricultural Policies and Strategies.
The main assignment I led was the analysis of agricultural related bills proposed by the National Assembly. This included a fair amount of coordination with different areas of the ministry particularly trade and commerce, irrigation, land management and so forth. However the most challenging task in this role was bridging the knowledge gap between the field experts and the assembly members (equivalent to the US Senators and representatives). This role helped me not only learn the procedure of passing regulation in Ecuador but the impact of creating policy properly and responsibly.
After the 2013 elections, due to success I had in my previous role, the authorities decided to appoint me as the National Director of Sustainable Agricultural Productivity. To date my biggest assignment is to lead the planning and implementation of the agricultural component of the National Bio-Fuels program. This program consists on the production of ethanol from sugarcane, in turn shifting our dependence from fossil fuels to sustainable and renewable energy. Most importantly, it seeks to support our government’s main focus for this term which is diversifying the pattern of specialization of the economy. Needless to say, this role was and continues to be big shoes to fill for a person such as myself who just had his first work anniversary in the ministry a couple of months ago.
Receiving only a forecasted demand for bioethanol from 2014-2020 as our starting point from the National Petroleum Company and the Industrial Ministry, I was responsible of developing the entire plan for sourcing the sugarcane and implementing it. I assembled a team of 6 experts in the field that executed the research regarding sugarcane production, market structure, situation and trends. In order to successfully accomplish this I had to give each of the members autonomy in their roles and opportunity for personal growth while continuing to instill the vision of the project – executing the project on a tight timeframe.
Once the initial research phase was completed we had a clear understanding of the sector and the constraints the farmers would face in order to increase the area planted and the productivity. One of the largest constraints to increase production is the infrastructure investment they would face in order to establish the crop. To...