The coordinator of Labex Korea presented a Special Lecture at the Department of Latin America Studies of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, in Seoul – Republic of Korea. See below the synthesis and a link to download the lecture, titled “Turning Science into Agribusiness – the Development of Advanced Tropical Agriculture in Brazil”
The wide range of climatic conditions, from temperate to tropical, together with advanced capacity in technology development, allowed considerable diversification of agricultural production in Brazil, which have made the country the world’s largest producer of citrus fruits, frozen concentrated orange juice, sugarcane, and coffee. Brazil is also a serious global competitor for many other products, such as soybeans, poultry, corn, beef, biofuels — as well as self-sufficient in most agricultural goods.
Technology development to farm in the tropics has been one of Brazil´s main strengths. The evolution of soybean cropping systems in the country, since the 1960´s, is a clear example of its innovation capacity. Today, Brazil produces one fourth of the soybeans in the world, with a total production volume only exceeded by the United States.
Introduced in a commercial scale in the years 1960-70, soybean adapted well only to temperate regions in Southern Brazil. Technology in breeding and genetics, crop and soil management, and biological nitrogen fixation, developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation – Embrapa and other partner organizations, allowed adaptation of this legume crop to low latitudes, in the Savannahs and in other agroecological zones located in Central and Northeastern Brazil. Over the past 30 years, average soybean yields have increased more than 130 percent, with quality as high as any produced in the world.
The substantial modernization of agriculture in Brazil, observed in the 70’s and early 80’s, was a result of coordinated policies that led to increased R&D capacity and increased volumes of credit, tied to support policies of stock management, improved distribution and commercialization of food and agro industrial products. These coordinated policies and support mechanisms led to a better allocation of resources, increased productivity, improved product quality and reducing food prices.
Also, and considering demands for more sustainable production models, Brazil took important leaps, in a short period of time, towards increasingly safer and more sustainable agricultural systems. To achieve this, the country counted on Embrapa and the state research institutes, universities, private companies and non-governmental organizations.
Besides adequate policies and capacity for development of science-based tropical agriculture, other key drivers have been responsible for agricultural development in Brazil. The most important are: a) entrepreneurship of its farmers, b) availability of basic infrastructure, c) large extension of agricultural land and adequate climatic conditions, d) landscape suitable for mechanization, e) good physical characteristics of the soils and f) availability of mineral resources, such as limestone and phosphate, which are essential for overcoming limitations to farming in tropical acid soils .
Brazil´s innovation capacity stands as one of the most comprehensive and most efficient in the tropical belt of the world. The country has been investing over 1.0 percent of its agricultural GDP in agricultural R&D, most of it from public sources. Continuous investment and support policies, in a national scale, has allowed improvement of infrastructure and human capacity, as well as improvement of management practices. And a well functioning system has led to innovations that objectively contributed to development of unique solutions to tropical agriculture, with sustainable use of natural resources.
To learn more, click here and access the lecture “Turning Science into Agribusiness – the Development of Advanced Tropical Agriculture in Brazil“, which was presented on November 2nd, 2010 at the Graduate School of International & Area Studies of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, in Seoul – Republic of Korea.