Guidelines for technical assistance and dissemination of technology for low-carbon agriculture in Brazil
Technical assistance and dissemination of technology in the Brazilian countryside are topics of fundamental importance to the new economy, based on low emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Among the actions that should be part of the guidelines for the implementation of the Brazilian NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) are the strengthening of technical assistance and rural extension organizations, training actions, and technology transfer. These actions will effectively contribute to the implementation of a low-carbon agriculture in all activities involved, supporting the recovery of degraded pastures, the integrated crop-livestock-forestry system (ICLF) and the forest recovery/restoration.
In this sense, in order to broaden the discussions and in search of widely agreed solutions, the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture promoted in Brasilia, at the end of last year, a round table discussion with several professionals in the area. Conceived and organized by the Low-carbon Agriculture Working Group (GT ABC), the event had four panels composed by professionals from the public, private and civil society sectors, divided into:
Public policies to promote technical assistance and dissemination of technology for family farming;
Technical assistance in the private sector;
Opportunities and synergies in the public and private sector; and
Qualification of technical assistance professionals.
During five hours of debates, the following points were listed among the main challenges:
Non-methodological standardization of technical assistance and dissemination of technology for family farming: The particularities in this niche are given by different types of producers, productive arrangements and land use. All this reflects on specific policies. Therefore, technical assistance must have participatory approaches and quality, and be comprehensive and free. This demands human resources, time and strategy. Considering existing technical assistance programs from the federal government for family farming, we highlight those focused on agroecology and sustainability, and related to Low-Carbon Agriculture (ABC). It is worth mentioning that the National Policy for Technical Assistance and Rural Extension (PNATER) was created in 2010 and focuses on family farming.
Agricultural census: Updating producer profile data by region of the country through the agricultural census is strategic and decisive. It was planned for 2016, but it did not happen. The regional characterization of rural properties is extremely important and will allow the development of technical assistance and dissemination of technology strategies that can be applied to the needs of rural landowners.
Monitoring of results: In addition to diagnosing the needs of the producer, it is important to promote and monitor collaboratively the results of technical assistance to track the continuous improvement of processes. In this sense, there are already good examples of success in partnerships between private initiative and NGOs, connecting the producer and the monitoring.
Long-term vision: The private initiative points out that technical assistance experiences bring gains to all parties involved, with continuous improvement. However, for some themes, the results are not immediately perceived. The positive point identified by the private sector is that agricultural activity gains efficiency and productivity when the producer adapts their activities to sustainability standards (including compliance with environmental, social and labor legislation). In some cases, the industry pays them better or they reach new markets with better quality products.
Involving the entire production chain: Training, especially related to accessing new technologies and knowledge, must involve different participants from the productive chains – from producers to banking agents, including technicians.
Based on collected perceptions, GT ABC listed key measures focused on low-carbon agriculture in Brazil in order to improve technical assistance and dissemination of technology, with the objective of reaching the commitments agreed by the country in the Paris Agreement and translated into the Brazilian NDC.
Incentive to the generation and diffusion of participatory technology, with the explicit adhesion of rural producers.
Small-scale or territorial technical assistance planning at municipal or regional level that meets local challenges and specificities.
Active participation of the states, through the ABC State Plans, and state agencies for technical assistance and dissemination of technology.
Establishment of partnerships between public and private sectors, universities, agriculture federations, trade unions and financial agents. To achieve success and gain scale, it is necessary to establish partnerships and distribute responsibilities among the various participants of the productive chains.
Inclusion of low-carbon production techniques and integrated training, including business management and environmental and social aspects, in technical assistance.
Training of qualified technicians who are familiar with low-carbon production practices and prepared to assist the producer. This is still a significant gap.
Aware of the importance of technical assistance and dissemination of technology for the achievement of the Brazilian goals regarding to GHG emission reduction, the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture intends to work with the federal government, private sector and civil society throughout this year of 2017 to advance the opportunities of enhancement of technical assistance and dissemination of technology, contributing to the scale gain of low-carbon agriculture in the country and compliance with the Brazilian NDC.
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