President Celso Moretti talked exclusively with the Australian Brazil Business Council
By Liz Lacerda, Foreign Correspondent
1. What are Brazil’s biggest challenges that could benefit from this partnership with Australia’s CSIRO?
At this stage, one of our top priorities determined by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply is the development of the Northeast region of Brazil, where the Caating Biome and the Semiarid reside. Many federal institutions are working together to support the government on this project. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed in March between Embrapa and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), determined that the goal is to exchange knowledge in order to reduce livestock problems in the region. This partnership also aims to develop pasture areas dealing with drought conditions.
2. Which research areas form part of the agreement?
The partnership between both institutions aims to develop projects on agriculture and natural resources. The goal is to increase knowledge for the development of sustainable agriculture and strengthen both organisations. The improvement of forages will have special attention, and there’s also the possibility that we use the material available at CSIRO’s germplasm banks. We also intend to work together on climate change; biotechnology; nanotechnology; geotechnology; automation; precision agriculture; zoo-sanitary and phytosanitary safety; animal production systems; agricultural and industrial technology and green chemistry; food safety, nutrition and health; biological control, among others.
3. Will there be any exchange, collaboration agreements or transference of technology?
Yes. Amongst the possibilities is the exchange of genetic material to adjust to the climatic conditions of the Brazilian’s Semiarid.
4. Embrapa has the biggest genetic bank in Latin America. How can Australia benefit from that?
The possibilities are many, and the cooperation will depend on the needs of both countries. Embrapa’s Genetic Bank has the capacity to store 750,000 samples of seeds and 10,000 vegetables in vitro. Further to that, there are collections – stored in liquid nitrogen (cryopreservation) at minus 180 degrees – with the capacity to keep more than 200,000 samples of vegetables, animals and microorganisms. Currently, we have 41 Australian species stored in Embrapa’s Genetic Bank.
5. Why is this type of partnership important to Embrapa and Brazil?
A study from our Secretariat of Intelligence and Strategic Relations revealed that 20 out of 42 Embrapa research centers are interested in working with the CSIRO. The main areas include: animal and vegetal genetics improvement, irrigation and management of water resources, animal health with emphasis in disease control, integrated management of insects with emphasis in biological control and environmental restoration. This means that many lines of research will benefit from the exchange of knowledge with CSIRO and, consequently, new technological solutions will be developed to benefit Brazilian agribusiness. In previous years, Embrapa and CSIRO have worked together on other projects, such as the qualification of Brazilian researchers on agricultural system models.
6. How is the partnership going so far? What are the results and expectations?
Three pillars will guide the partnership between Embrapa and the CSIRO. The first is the definition of priority areas for both organisations. The second is the elaboration of common research projects – something Embrapa already does with Argentina and France and is discussing with the US – but they need financing sources. The third refers to the establishment of a representation of CSIRO in Brazil. Embrapa’s goal is to implement the partnership as soon as we receive the Australian response on the issues regarding the three pillars.