8 January 2014 – A technical group formed by researchers from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and teachers of Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT) and the University of Mato Grosso (Unemat) began to instruct agents on technical assistance and extension the diagnosis of pests and diseases in horticulture. The activity carried out between 2–4 January at Embrapa agrosilvopastoral in Sinop (MT), marked the beginning of the implementation of a pilot project through the partnership of technical cooperation signed between Embrapa and the international organisation CABI.

The initiative is part of Plantwise, an international project that aims to ensure food security and reduce losses from agriculture, with a focus on small farmers. To this end, work is done for technology transfer through training of technicians and extension workers that lead to knowledge producers.

“Every day a huge amount of technological information is generated through research and scholarly work and little of it reaches the field. So the challenge is to make agricultural technology reach the field, making the transfer and adaptation, specifically working with small producers,” explains the regional representative for CABI in South America, Yelitza Colmenarez.

Pilot project

Mato Grosso was chosen to be the pilot project in Brazil due to the state now having a structure for Continuing Training of Technicians. The option for horticulture production chain was due to the impact it can generate for farmers. “Currently we have 70 technicians participating in Continuing Training Chain of Vegetable Crops. We will select 25 of them to train them in this project,” explains researcher at Embrapa agrosilvopastoral Flávio Fernandes Jr.

The training of these technicians will be undertaken by the technical group with professionals from CABI. After training, these professionals will be part of the local diagnosis network giving clinical support to producers. As an aid, they will have a local network of laboratories, which in Mato Grosso is formed by Unemat and UFMT. Problems that cannot be resolved by local networks will be dealt with nationally by institutions such as USP, UNESP and Embrapa. If it is not possible to identify nationally, there is still the possibility of using the international network of laboratories and experts.

According to the regional representative for CABI in South America, the focus of Plantwise goes beyond the plant. “We want to include all that is limiting, such as good agricultural practices and integrated crop management. All that can limit the production of a crop in the field,” explains Colmenarez. After the first results of the project in Mato Grosso, the initiative will be replicated in other regions of Brazil and also in other productive activities, such as fruit growing, for example.

“We want this programme to make a difference, so documentation is key. We see many established programmes where documentation is lacking. So, you have to evaluate what has been done before. We can document Ground Zero, and see what difficulties and facilities we have in each region; this makes it much easier to transfer to other regions,” says Yelitza Colmenarez.

Technical cooperation

CABI is an international non-profit organisation that operates in dozens of countries around the world, developing and fostering research and technology transfer in agriculture. It recently signed a technical cooperation agreement with Embrapa in Brazil for joint action.

“The idea is generated by Embrapa and technology generated in the institution, we can download and evaluate the process of adoption of this technology by small farmers,” says Yelitza Colmenarez.

Beyond the pilot project in the area of technology transfer in the horticultural value chain in Mato Grosso, the organisation already works together with Embrapa in research on biopesticides and the red palm mite.

See the article in Portuguese – Gabriel Faria, Embrapa

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