May 21, 2013

Live Blog - Brazil And Food Security: A "Remarkable Story" With Lessons For Others

By Erin Stock, InterAction

In 40 years, Brazil went from importing most of its staples – such as rice, beans and milk – to being a major exporter of food worldwide. How?

Antonio Lopes, the president of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, points to “government decisions” – decisions to strengthen universities, hire and send researchers around the world for training, and create an enabling environment for the development of tropical agricultural.

“It had a tremendous impact on our country,” Lopes told attendees at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs annual Global Food Security Symposium today.

The question of “how Brazil did it” is one that Lopes frequently gets. It arose again today during a panel discussion on “A New Science of Agriculture to Advance Global Food Security," with the moderator calling Brazil's progress "a remarkable story."

Lopes explained that Brazil was able to move forward fast because of investments in “science-based agriculture” that improved efficiency, he said. The country has doubled its cultivated land since the 1970s, while multiplying by six times its agricultural output, he said. This balance of expanding agriculture and conserving the land is an important challenge, he later added.

Brazil had no model for tropical agriculture to mimic, either, which catalyzed the country to create its own, Lopes said. Many of these important decisions to advance agriculture development were also made when a military government was in power.

“I have to tell you that this had an impact,” he said, explaining that it was frankly easier for decisions to be made.

Today, Brazil continues to invest in agriculture development, he said. The government’s Science Without Frontiers program is sending 100,000 undergraduate and graduate students from Brazil around the world for training. Lopes’ organization was able to recently hire 1,000 new researchers through government funding as well, he said.

“We have to work with our policymakers if we are to make substantial advances in bringing new concepts of sustainable agriculture into reality,” he said.

Other panelists agreed. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chief executive officer and head of mission for the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, said it is critical to stimulate investment of research at a national government level. It is important that these investments support private sector involvement, initiatives grounded in farmer’s livelihoods, bold government vision and training for researchers who adapt their work for local contexts.

“What I take from the Brazil example – it’s this investment in people all around,” Sibanda said.

Erin Stock is the online coordinator for InterAction. This blog is cross-posted on the InterAction's blog. Follow @globalagdev and #globalag on Twitter to join the conversation.

About

The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Blogroll

1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA

Archive




| By Lisa Moon

Guest Commentary - Reduce Food Loss & Waste, Feed Millions

Studies show that one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, enough to feed 1.9 billion people-almost the same amount as are experiencing food insecurity. Food banks are uniquely positioned to address the paradox of global hunger and food loss and waste. 


| By Colin Christensen, Eva Koehler

Guest Commentary - The Plague You’ve Never Heard About Could be as Destructive as COVID-19: How the Threat from Desert Locusts Shows the Need for Innovations in how Organizations Scale

The international community needs to mobilize to combat the plague of locusts devouring East Africa. At the same time however, we should also consider the long-term investments we must make to build lasting resilience to climate change among smallholder populations.




| By Sarah Bingaman Schwartz, Maria Jones

Guest Commentary - Reducing Food Loss and Waste by Improving Smallholder Storage

Reducing postharvest losses by half would result in enough food to feed a billion people, increase smallholder income levels and minimize pressure on natural resources. The ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss works with smallholders in Bihar to improve storage and reduce loss. 








| By Mark Titterington

Guest Commentary - A European perspective on the journey to a regenerative agriculture system…

Regenerative farming practices can lead to improved soil health and farm productivity and profitability, boosting crop quality and yields, improving the resilience of farms to extreme weather events and reducing the propensity for soil degradation and run-off, but most excitingly, creates the opportunity to actually draw down and store carbon from the atmosphere in agriculture soils.