Science and Technology Quest to Improve Lives
Embrapa and its partner institutions are helping Brazil to develop an agricultural model strongly based on scientific and technological knowledge, focused on solving problems typical of the world’s tropical belt. The excellence of Embrapa in agricultural research in the 1970s, for instance, resulted in the development of technology which enabled the establishment of the Brazil’s Cerrado region, and turned soybeans into the flagship of the country’s agribusiness. This has made all the difference for our country.
Despite the progress we made, Brazil needs to continue to strengthen its research and innovation program with an emphasis on solving current issues, but always attentive to anticipate risks, challenges, and opportunities. Our goal is to contribute to the production of non-expensive, diverse and safe food. Therefore, we prioritize increasing production and productivity sustainably, seeking socio-economic improvements and conserving natural resources, as well as complying with the new Brazilian Forest Code requirements. The increased demand for food, fiber, and bioenergy will require technological sophistication to optimize the use of water, conserve the soil, protect biodiversity and implement the ecosystem services required for agricultural and forestry production.
The combination of innovative soil and water protection practices, integrated pest management and mechanization has afforded significant improvements. They enabled year-round agricultural production in much of Brazil. We have available land, combined with warm weather and plenty sun light to boost production. However, we need to be alert to heightened stress factors such as heat, water, nutrition and biotic stresses, resulting from climate change. Public-private partnerships are essential to complement efforts to address these challenges.
Our perspective is that public-private partnerships are key to meet these challenges. Therefore, we have established important collaborations with the production sector. We do not market directly the technologies we develop, but rather always through partner companies. We are aware that in this competitive and complex world we live in, no organization has all the skills to provide the diverse solutions the country needs. Many issues we face today start before the production unit and end at the consumer’s dinner table, often in faraway countries and continents. Institutions such as Embrapa should not compete with the private sector; instead, they should work in cooperation and synergy. They occupy spaces that guarantee more players in the market, which can generate a range of solutions for society; whether information, knowledge, finished products or assets. At Embrapa, we foster innovation and that has bear fruits in Brazil.
president of Embrapa, graduated in agronomic engineering at Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil. He has master's degree in genetics at Purdue University (EUA), PhD in molecular genetics at University of Arizona (EUA) and post-doctorate at FAO-ONU (Italy). He joined Embrapa in 1989, where he started working as a trainee.
Bayer has proven to be a strategic partner of Embrapa. We are already developing joint projects to assess the loss of sensitivity of pathogens to products currently used in crops, and carry out studies on the relationship between pollinators and different production systems in Brazil. We are interested in Bayer becoming a partner of the Crop-Livestock-Forestry Integration Development Network. This initiative started in 2012 and involves several private companies working in cooperation with the Embrapa unit network. The collaboration supports Brazilian Low Carbon Agriculture program, probably the biggest and boldest agricultural greenhouse gas reduction platform in the world. These partnerships have a significant role in the development and dissemination of solutions to sustainably expand production, and are the cornerstone of Brazilian agribusiness future.
Agriculture is already being impacted by the deep technological revolution through the explosion of “big data,” the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. There are huge opportunities ahead. Through Agropensa, its strategic intelligence system, Embrapa systematically assesses new trends in information and communication (ICTs), automation, and digital transformation technologies impacting agribusiness, such as the use of sensors, advanced image processing, intensive data collection and processing, and applications for mobile devices. In our portfolio, we have 22 projects focusing on advanced geotechnology, precision agriculture, plant disease diagnostic systems and livestock management, production system automation, integrated models for sustainable production system simulation to name a few. We look for and are open to partnerships which will help Brazilian agriculture move into the next industrial revolution.
Embrapa and Bayer can certainly work together to develop new solutions.