Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) - Brazil
Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa)
Brazil has transformed from a food importer to one of the world’s largest agricultural producers over the past several decades, catching up with developed countries that have historically dominated grain exports.19 The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) was a key reason for this extraordinary growth, literally changing the landscape of Brazil to increase the cultivation of the cerrado, Brazil’s savannah.
Although it is connected to the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Embrapa was established in 1973 as a public company. Its mission is “to provide feasible solutions for the sustainable development of the agricultural sector through knowledge and technology”.20 The company comprises a broad network of research and service centres across the country, and is engaged in a huge variety of activity in agro-energy, agribusiness, food technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, animal production and forestry. It is present in all states of Brazil, and employs over 9,000 people including over 2,000 researchers, three-fourths of whom have doctoral degrees.
The organization has created and recommended more than 9,000 technologies for Brazilian agriculture since its inception.21 Innovations include new seeds, edible wrapping paper for foodstuffs, and biodegradable fabrics and bandages, among other highly sophisticated product and process improvements in the agricultural sector.22
According to Embrapa, which receives most of its funding from the federal government, every R$ 1 invested in Embrapa generates an average return of R$ 13.20 for the Brazilian society.
Presentation by Filipe Teixeira (Business Manager of Embrapa,
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply).
Embrapa: Conquering Tropic Agriculture Knowledge in Brazil.
Representative Best Practices
- Managing both the knowledge produced and knowledge development process: The Embrapa Management System (SEG) aligns the company’s research, development and innovation activities with the organization’s overall communication efforts and knowledge management. The SEG model incorporates learning that takes place during the research process itself into its overall strategic planning, communications and competitive intelligence work. Embrapa emphasizes knowledge management in its strategy and seeks to develop innovative approaches to internal and external technology transfer.24
- Engaging in innovative international knowledge transfer: Embrapa currently has 78 bilateral agreements with 56 countries and 89 institutions, consisting of research partnerships as well as technology transfers.25 The organization conducts technology transfers with markets in Africa (including Ghana, Senegal, Mozambique and Mali) and the Americas (such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama). For example, in 2012 Embrapa established a partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) to share technologies that support cotton production.26
Additionally, Embrapa has developed cooperative arrangements in the US, Europe and Asia with a programme known as Labex, “virtual laboratories abroad without walls”.27 Through Labex, senior scientists are posted to an international team and spend two-thirds of their time on a project of joint interest, fostering collaborative innovation.
- The Embrapa Swine and Poultry team has been working on mapping the chicken genome to identify which molecular markers and genomic regions allow for optimal poultry traits and also discover new genes in chickens that are important for meat production and quality.28
- Since 1991, Embrapa has been monitoring burning sites in Brazil through orbital systems and remote sensing. Burning impacts ecological and agricultural systems in Brazil, which in turn affects local and regional economies29
- Other ongoing initiatives include:30
- Alternative agro energy
- Forests for energy production
- Functional foods – adding value to health-promoting foods
- Science and technology for organic agriculture