A Whole Lot Going on in Africa Courtesy of Brazil

A biodiesel factory in Brazil Last December Morocco became the first Arab country in North Africa to establish a partnership with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) office in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Two weeks ago, the coordinator of Embrapa Africa, Cláudio Bragantini, visited Hasan II Academy, a federal university in Morocco that has a research institute in the agricultural area.

According to Bragantini the partnership should be concentrated mainly in the production of biodiesel, which may be obtained from castor seeds and pine seeds, plants of the region that are resistant to lack of rain.

"The Moroccans are very interested in participating in training in the area of biotechnology and also in the development of agricultural projects with the private sector," stated Bragantini.

According to him, the Brazilian embassy in Morocco is already articulating a meeting with private and government organizations. "I believe that in the near future we will be developing this kind of project," said the researcher.

Libya is another Arab country that may make use of the Embrapa office in Africa. According to the researcher, the Libyan embassy in Ghana has already shown interest in a partnership in the area of irrigated agriculture. "Libya finances many projects in the agricultural area in Ghana and in other countries in the region," he said.

According to Bragantini, the idea behind this specific project is to pipe a large volume of water discovered when drilling in the search of oil and use the product in irrigated agriculture.

"There (in Libya) we have a great advantage. The government has financial assets and great interest in the project and Embrapa has the necessary technology," he guaranteed.

"This is an opportunity that may generate a fabulous partnership. We promised to move ahead with this project and to send a letter of intention to the Libyan embassy in Ghana," he explained.

With regard to Tunisia, Bragantini says that he has not yet received any direct contact but has already received information from the Brazilian embassy in Ghana about the interest in Brazilian technologies.

Last year a delegation of four Embrapa Forestry representatives, from the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, travelled to the Arab country to develop a project in the area of management of eucalyptus for the extraction of wood.

The Embrapa Africa office is a political initiative of the government of Brazil to transfer technology to the African countries. Since its installation, a group of researchers from the Embrapa International Cooperation Advisory has been discussing routes for the promotion of the use of Brazilian technology to generate growth, reduce social inequality, fight against hunger and poverty, and work with small farmers for a sustainable cycle.

"It is worth pointing out that the office does not only represent Embrapa, but Brazil as a whole. The office works as an agent to facilitate the link between financial organizations and governments and we will have our doors opened to private companies in agribusiness that may be interested in participating in this revolution," stated Bragantini.

"We have a work agenda that is geared at transferring technology that worked in Brazil. We offer them our work and, if necessary, will work based on the demand of each country," pointed out Bragantini. The requests reach the office through the Foreign Relations Department at the Embrapa, through the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), directly to the office or even through international organizations interested in partnerships.

According to Bragantini, the greatest demand from governments is related to small farmers. "We have large volumes of technology developed in the northeast of Brazil and in the semi-arid regions of the country that may adapt well to the climate and soil in Africa," stated Bragantini.

According to him, the great demand is for direct planting and minimum cultivation (a system that requires some superficial soil work), for projects that promote integration between crops and livestock farming. "In savannas a large part of the soil is degraded and needs recovery," he said.

Up to now, the researchers based in the office in Ghana have already visited Angola, Kenya, Benin, Togo and Mozambique. In Angola, for example, the demand is for commercial agriculture, interested in the planting of soy for biofuels.

Mozambique, in turn, wants to strengthen the Institute for Agrarian Research of Mozambique (Iiam).  "We have a project in progress that is prior to the creation of the office in Ghana, which includes improvement in the Iiam research processes," he explained.

There is also great demand for the processing of cassava after harvesting. "We have already even trained technicians in Ghana for this activity," explained the researcher. The demand for bioenergy was also identified by the researcher. "All countries are seeking the development of this technology," he said.

Anba – www.anba.com.br


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