27 February 2023, Geneva, Switzerland - The Spanish edition of the FAO and UNITAR joint e-Learning Course on “Trade, Food Security, and Nutrition” for Latin American policymakers launched in September 2022 has been completed. 

The course was intended for officials who are directly involved in the formulation and implementation of agricultural policies and programmes in the region.

The main objective was to assist government representatives and related authorities in strengthening their capacities in ensuring that the expansion of agricultural trade works for and not against, the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

This edition of the course had the valuable collaboration of regional partners such as; the Secretariat of the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC), the Secretary of Economic Integration of Central America (SIECA), and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). These partners contributed extensively to the development and implementation of the course due to their commercial and agricultural knowledge of the region.

Application of Knowledge and Skills 

There was a great demand to participate in the course as indicated by the number of applications received. UNITAR received a total of 859 applications from the region. 

From the 859 applications received, 70 participants from 16 countries were chosen by the selection committee to participate in the course. 

At the end of the course, the participants were asked to complete a survey to evaluate the usefulness of the course and to provide feedback to improve future course iterations. Half of the course participants were government officials involved in the design and implementation of agricultural, food security and trade policies or the design and negotiation of trade agreements. 

The second largest representation was officials who work in public or private training or education entities in commerce, food, or agriculture. 

The high level of alignment between the course’s objectives and the participant’s involvement in trade or food systems issues supported the application of knowledge and skills to their workplaces.

From the survey results, 100% of the survey respondents considered the three training units useful (Unit 1: Introduction to Trade, Food Security and Nutrition; Unit 2: Trade Policy Supportive of Food Security; Unit 3: Governance of Trade, Food Security and Nutrition).

98.3% of the survey respondents indicated they would likely use the information acquired in this course. The most common examples of future application among the respondents were the inclusion of the new knowledge in the a) design and implementation of strategies concerning agro-export, self-sufficiency and food security, b) Improving their performance at work, and c) increasing their contributions to national objectives and the institutions in which they work. 

Global Reach, Local Context

The joint course on “Trade, Food Security, and Nutrition” started in 2017 and has been one of the longest-running joint programme between FAO and UNITAR. Over the years, the course has been contextualized to regional settings and delivered in several languages including English, French, Russian, Arabic, and Spanish. Over 630 officials globally have benefitted from the course.

Due to continuing demand, FAO and UNITAR will rerun the course in 2023 in Arabic for officials from the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region.

Participant Comments

The post-course survey reflected participants’ appreciation of the course and their views on how each organization contributed to a high-quality course. 

I work in the Ministry of Food Industry, I attend to the activity of Foreign Trade, we have the responsibility to ensure the imports of raw materials necessary for food producers. After having studied the issues addressed in the course, it is up to us to be clear about the consequences of trade in the short and long term, since they are not always positive, and we have to be clear about that. In addition to making use of bilateral agreements and achieving better negotiations with the parties involved in the process. It should be noted that regardless of the specific use of the course topics, it creates a vision, a panorama, opens a spectrum that when one always performs the same activity, forgets that he can see it differently and is motivated to use new ways to achieve the objectives.

Participant from Cuba

I am currently working on a regional project focused on the post-pandemic green recovery that consists of scalable technological innovations for small producers. For this case, the knowledge I have acquired will be useful because, for a real increase in the income of small producers, I consider international trade as the solution. On the other hand, including food security in the analysis seems relevant to me because of the impact it could have on rural producers; pursuing a goal of improving incomes and nutrition at the same time.

Participant from Ecuador

This is a very useful course for me. I am working in the area of phytosanitary certification of the Directorate of Plant Health, and as a frequent activity, I have to interact with the authorities of other countries to be able to export Guatemalan products. This course is very helpful since it expands my knowledge and be able to talk technically about international trade issues.

Participant from Guatemala

About our Partners FAO, CAC, SIECA, and IICA

About The UNITAR-FAO Partnership

Over the past 9 years, UNITAR's collaboration with FAO has continued to grow with over a dozen agriculture and trade-related courses developed and delivered for the benefit of over 1,800 beneficiaries globally with a large part coming from Africa, Central Asia, and Latin America. 

About FAO

FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. The goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active and healthy lives. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.fao.org.

About CAC

The Central American Agricultural Council (CAC) is the body of the Central American Integration System (SICA), composed of the ministers responsible for the agriculture of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

From the X Summit of Presidents of the region held in El Salvador in July 1991, it is recognized as the institutional mechanism for the linking of the agricultural sector with the other instances of Central American integration. This role was formally consolidated with the firm and entry into force of the Tegucigalpa Protocol to the letter of the Organization of Central American States (Tegucigalpa Protocol) and the Protocol to the General Treaty of Central American Economic Integration (Guatemala Protocol), which are constituted in the two regional treaties that legally support the functioning of the CAC.


SIECA is the technical and administrative body of the Central American Economic Integration Process, with a legal personality under international law. It has functional autonomy, serving as a link for the actions of the other Secretariats of the Economic Subsystem and coordinates with the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System.

SIECA ensures the correct application of the Protocol to the General Treaty on Central American Economic Integration (Guatemala Protocol) and other legal instruments of regional economic integration, as well as the execution of the decisions of the bodies of the Economic Subsystem.

About IICA

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is the specialized agency for agriculture of the Inter-American System that supports the efforts of Member States to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being.

The Institute provides cooperation services through close and permanent work with its 34 Member States, addressing their needs on time. Without a doubt, IICA’s most valuable asset is the close relationship it maintains with the beneficiaries of its work. We have broad experience in areas such as technology and innovation for agriculture, agricultural health, food safety and quality, international agricultural trade, family farming, rural development, natural resource management and the bioeconomy.

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