JICA Ogata Research Institute

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JICA-RI Conducts Research for an Upcoming Book on the Cerrado in Brazil

March 31, 2012


Akio Hosono, Director of JICA-RI, visited a shipment place of grain at the inland area of Tocantins state.*1

Akio Hosono, Director of JICA-RI, and Yutaka Hongo, Visiting Senior Advisor, traveled to Brazil from February 4 to 19 to conduct a second field survey for their forthcoming book The Agricultural Development Miracle. This is the fifth volume of the Project History series which analyzes the success factors of the past JICA projects, and describes the transformation of the Cerrado into the world’s top granary.


Once known as “the barren land,” the Cerrado - a tropical savanna stretching across midwestern Brazil - has emerged as the largest agricultural region in the Southern Hemisphere after 20 some years since the Brazilian government launched a national development program. This success has been praised as one of the world’s greatest achievements in agricultural history in the 20th century, but it’s not well-known that Japan’s assistance and Japanese immigrants played crucial role behind the scenes. Hosono and Hongo’s book aims to depict this “miracle” of agricultural development from the perspective of international cooperation.


The sites the team visited this time include the capital Brasilia and the regions in the Tocantins and Mato Grosso states where the PRODECER (Japan-Brazil Agricultural Development Cooperation Program) had been carried out. Here they conducted the following: (1) surveys of Lucas do Rio Verde in Mato Grosso and Pedro Afonso in Tocantins, two cities where the IFDM (Firjan's Municipal Development Index) has dramatically improved thanks to PRODECER; (2) visits to the areas where infrastructure development such as railways and grain collection sites are well developed (Porto Franco and others); and (3) supplementary interviews at the Agricultural Research Center for the Cerrado (CPAC).


Director Hosono explains that they organized their schedule in Brazil to collect evidence to  analyze PRODECER with the perspective of Green Growth. This global vision to balance economic growth with environmental protection will be one of the major policy agenda for the Rio+20, an upcoming international conference on sustainable development to be held in June in Rio de Janeiro.


Here are some facts Hosono and Hongo could confirm through the field surveys:


1) Prudent environmental consideration


PRODECER has long been engaged in agricultural development in the Cerrado with consideration for environment, about 15 years ahead of the 1992 Rio “Earth Summit.” This fact was confirmed through interviews with many of the people involved including Carlos Magno, former director of CPAC and former director-president of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA). In addition, PRODECER was carried out with an even greater emphasis on environmental protection after the Earth Summit., which the team reconfirmed with information provided by Dr. Edson Eyji Sano of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA).


The city of Lucas do Rio Verde , located in the Cerrado region, presents an example of successful environmental preservation endeavor. The most outstanding achievements of the city include, among others, the promotion of Cadastro Ambiental Rural (CAR),  a farmland registration program created with GPS data as part of their social environment project. With these efforts the city was commended by Jornal do Brasil, one of Brazil’s major newspapers, as the most accomplished environment-friendly city of the country in 2006.


2) Promoted regional value chain


The team also confirmed PRODECER contributed to diversification of agriculture in the region as well as the creation of vast value-chains in and around the Cerrado though the development of agro-livestock-industry-related manufacturing sector. And these changes initially started with the construction of colonies (settlements) by farmers, who ventured into the region as members of cooperative unions. These developments have resulted in the increased employment opportunities and improved incomes in the region.


Consequently, those cities that served as centers of PRODECERE are now placed at the top of the country’s Human Development Index (UNDP measures that show the quality and degree of development of peoples’ life).


For example, Lucas do Rio Verde is ranked 8th out of more than 5,000 municipalities in Brazil, and top within the state of Mato Grosso. The city has made efforts in developing the processing of agricultural produce, and expanding employment opportunities. Of particular note is how they have built industrial zones that attract companies that produce chicken, pork, biodiesel, and others. Director Hosono said, “Lucas do Rio Verde has shown us a result that could be considered as a model for the entire country. The mayor, city officials, and farm producers all agreed that PRODECER had been the starting-point for its success story.”


In Tocantins, the state governor stressed that PRODECER has been invaluable for the agricultural development of the state. Pedro Afonso, another PRODECER site, has also scored high in the Human Development Index ranking. “Agricultural development in the Cerrado has caused a significant in-country migration due to the resulting creation of job opportunities. Particularly an inflow to the Cerrado region from the south and north-east has been remarkable, and this has contributed to closing the economic disparities between the regions,” Hosono analyzes.


*The Project History series started with the first volume, The Japanese who Changed Chile into a Great Salmon-Exporting Country: A Record of International Cooperation that Created an Industry from Scratch (by Akio Hosono), which was followed by Living More Independently with a Wheelchair in Asian Cities: A Challenge by the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (by Akiie Ninomiya), Japan-original Technical Cooperation that Changed the West Africa's Education: The History of the Nigerien Schools for All Project (by Masahiro Hara), and mostly recently Japanese Sericultural Technology That Changed The Silk- Producing India (by Koji Yamada).


The expanded soybean field in and outskirts of Lucas do Rio Verde city of Matos Gross state.*2


*1 The agriculture in Cerrado of Tocantins state, being located in the northeast of Cerrado belt, has boosted its development. Railway construction and railroads have been arranged and accelerated the export of the agricultural products.


*2 Lucas County, the remote place in the north of Cerrado belt, was selected as one of the second-phase business sites, and has made a dramatic progress because of the agriculture development in Cerrado. The county today not only shows the top socioeconomic index value within the state, but has received the best national environmental award in 2006. (Photo: Lucas city in 2012)

DayFebruary 04, 2012(Sat) - February 19, 2012(Sun)

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