Scientific Computing in the Context of a Successful Agricultural Research Enterprise

Scientific Computing in the Context of a Successful Agricultural Research Enterprise

Geraldo Silva e Souza (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - Secretariat for Strategic Planning, Brasília, Brazil) and Eliseu Alves (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - Secretariat for Strategic Planning, Brasília, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-871-1.ch001
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Abstract

Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), a governmental agricultural research institution from Brazil, is a case of successful organizacional innovation that has as main characteristics: a public corporation model of organization; scale of operation at national level; spatial decentralization; specialized research units; enhanced training and remuneration of human resources and a vision of an agriculture based on science and technology. Moreover, from the beginning the organization has always been result oriented. Among the structural and political issues that led this enterprise to reach a well succeeded position, the authors argue that the strong application of scientific computing is the underlying reason that enabled high quality results achieved in research, development, and innovation. All of these reasons are presented in the next sections.
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Scale And Decentralization

Many wished that Embrapa would be small and only coordinated a research program run by the existing institutes and universities. This option was rejected because it was soon realized that, in a country of continental dimensions, the success of Embrapa depend on its size and an accumulated critical mass of researchers, diverse for talent, and branched throughout the national territory. It was understood that Embrapa needed to have the scale as large as Brazil and that it needed to have its own research network, so it could be direct responsible for the results, allowing it to be well known and evaluated on its own merits. This model would also allow for it to seek cooperation with universities, research institutes, private sector and overseas in a position of equals. Being large, diverse and decentralized, Embrapa would have conditions to represent the federal government in an area as important as agriculture and receive priority, both in the allocation of resources and with regard to institutional development.

It was very important for Embrapa to have a presence throughout the national territory. This presence helped to attract sympathy of the state governments and the National Congress. Embrapa has a marked presence in the Federal District, where are located its Headquarters and: Embrapa Technological Information, Embrapa Cerrados, Embrapa Vegetables, Embrapa Genetic Resources & Biotechnology, Embrapa Agroenergy, Embrapa Technology Transfer. The units in the Federal District are an important window of Embrapa. Being in the proximity of power, they have had important role in helping establish and solidify the image of the corporation near the central power and the international market.

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