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Kátia Abreu Headshot

The Technology That the City Does Not See

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AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Agriculture is a broad concept. It encompasses all animal and vegetable products that come to the Brazilian (and all the countries) table.

It starts with the wood used in the construction of the table, then goes through the cotton table cloth covering the table.

Chicken, meat and pork are agricultural products which have cereal as the base of their feed. Milk production, for better performance and constancy, also depends on grain-based diets.

It is a common confusion between agriculture and agribusiness. Agriculture concerns the work of the farmer, from the land preparation to harvest or the sale of animals.

The concept goes beyond agribusiness. It includes the intake produce that the farmer makes use of from industries, as well as the industry that benefits from agricultural production and the distribution of all products sold.

This abundant Brazilian agriculture, which has long ceased to be a mere commodity exporter, is based on a strong technological apparatus. When speaking of agriculture in Brazil today, the talk is about a rural universe of high technology, of which the urban population enjoys, but few see.

Adapted seeds are developed with great effort by researchers from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa). From this we get farm machinery, pesticides, fertilizers, and the use of biotechnology for modification of adapted varieties.

And we still have genetic selection techniques, as in in-vitro fertilization and cloning, widely used in animal production and fish.

Despite the romanticism that is required in the activities of creating, planting and harvesting, the competition between each link in the chain for a bigger slice of the profit sector is hardly poetic.

The weakest link is the farmer. While as a general rule he makes use of technology, there is no way for the farmer to overcome this fragile condition, especially if he does not have the scale of production.

The challenge is to expand the number of producers who are part of the agribusiness success. It doesn't matter whether he is an island of prosperity or perhaps a continent of success.

Increasing, strengthening and consolidating a rural middle class should be the endeavor of all, as it is with the urban middle class.

This path will only be possible if we make every innovation and all technology in the country accessible to the majority of producers. Today, few have access to the existing technological apparatus.

The way to democratize knowledge and technology in the field is the rapid implementation of a policy of rural extension or technical service.

Producers need to be technically qualified to make the correct choices; to be able to form a business plan and improve their managerial skills are absolutely essential tasks.

These are tools that allow us to multiply the production of our lands, without the deforestation of even a single tree.

The act of disseminating knowledge and technology is almost a profession of faith. It is the most sustainable and honest way to protect people and their businesses.

While governments of various countries subsidize their agriculture worldwide, pumping billions of dollars into the sector, in Brazil there is no subsidized agriculture.

The producer works with cost control in hand and, when defining his production system, in the market he looks for technologies painstakingly developed by Embrapa and Agribusiness providers.

Our choice is the pursuit of innovation, which enables us to overcome the cost of the harmful challenges in Brazil.

Brazilian agriculture -- which today sustains the balance of trade, generating more than 1 million jobs every year, and contributing to 22.5 percent of all wealth produced in the nation -- without relying on government handouts, and doing it all without complaint.

Only in rich countries can society afford to play around with the inefficient sectors of the economy that refuse to invest in technology and innovation, but these sectors instead remain on the hunt for government subsidies.

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