Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Brazil's Cerrado

Embrapa owes much of its reputation to its pioneering work here in the cerrado, the vast savannah that stretches for more than 1,000 miles across central Brazil. Written off as useless for centuries, the region has been transformed in less than a generation into Brazil’s grain belt, thanks to the discovery that soils could be made fertile by dousing them with phosphorus and lime, whose optimum mixture was established by Embrapa scientists.

When the annual World Food Prize was awarded last year to two Brazilians affiliated with Embrapa, the citation called the emergence of the cerrado “one of the greatest achievements of agricultural science in the 20th century.”

To me what's most interesting about this is that the Brazilian government really helped Embrapa by allowing it to profit from public-private partnerships. That model could be used in other places in the world.


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