Today Brazil is one of the major producers of a series of agricultural commodities, including soybeans, sugar, orange juice, maize, cotton, chicken, meat and pigs, with strong participation in a long list of others. The position of Brazilian agriculture as one of the breadbaskets of the world is quite remarkable given that just two decades ago this sector was marked instead by backwardness and inefficiencies.
This has been achieved not by simply incorporating more land, but by dramatic improvements in productivity, led by technological research that developed methods and inputs specifically suited to the country’s conditions. The government’s agricultural research institute, EMBRAPA, has been responsible for coordinating and catalysing many of these developments.
At a recent seminar held at the University of Brasília, we discussed the different factors underlying the transformation in Brazilian agriculture and, given the similarities, what African countries could learn. Each presentation and a short interview with the lead researchers is below.