Brazil has developed a large and complex agricultural research basis composed by public institutes, universities, private companies and non-governmental organizations. This capacity stands as one of the most comprehensive and most efficient in the tropical belt of the world.
Beginning in the 70´s, Brazil has improved its structure and capacity substantially, composing the so-called National System for Agricultural Research (SNPA), which has been able to develop and promote a wide array of technological innovations that triggered the expansion of agribusiness in the country over the past thirty years. State research institutes, universities and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Organization – Embrapa are the major components of the SNPA.
The System is responsible for organizing, coordinating and/or implementation research that objectively contribute to development of agriculture and preservation of natural resources in the country. Implementation of the SNPA concept led to strengthening of agricultural R&D capacity in Brazil, with improved infrastructure, human capacity, management mechanisms and support policies in a national scale.
In the 1990s the country started to incorporate more agents and capacities to help ensure that producers, educators, researchers and outreach workers have better access to the knowledge generated by the agricultural innovation system. While recognizing the important role of research, more attention was given to linking research, education and extension, improving processes to enhance information and knowledge dissemination to the various clients and beneficiaries of agricultural innovation. Also, these practices helped the system to improve its capacity of identifying demands of producers and the society for new technologies, information and knowledge.
More recently a new concept of Agricultural Innovation gains importance in Brazil, moving the system beyond the scientific and technological realms, towards a view of research that must be also driven by factors associated with balanced market and social appropriation of knowledge, with stronger emphasis to sustainability.