Production of food, fiber and energy with respect for the environment and people

By José Otavio Menten, Financial Director of the Sustainable Agro Scientific Council (CCAS)

11.10.2016 | 20:59 (UTC -3)

Agricultural production is fundamental in people's lives. There is no peace on Earth if there is hunger. The production of food, as well as fiber and agroenergy, depends on the actions of several professionals. However, the most important thing is the agronomist, together with the rural producers. This is a professional with solid basic training in mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology and extensive professional training in the exact, biological and human areas. It has the competence to act in all phases of the production chains, from the production of inputs (seeds and seedlings, fertilizers and limestone, phytosanitary products), machinery and equipment, planning, insurance and rural financing ("before the gate" activities), to plant and animal production ("within the gate") and the marketing, storage, distribution and processing of agricultural products of animal and plant origin ("after the gate"). Thus, it is the professional directly involved in the production of grains, coffee, sugarcane, cassava, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, spices and medicinal plants, cattle, chicken, pigs, fish, small animals, etc. This production must provide profit and not cause environmental and social problems. It is also responsible for topography and georeferencing work, dams, irrigation and drainage, construction and rural roads, agrometeorology, rural electrification, conservation of natural resources (soil, water and biodiversity), land and labor aspects, etc. In addition to production, agronomists are mainly responsible for agricultural research, teaching, extension and rural inspection. They carry out their professional activities in both private and public companies; They increasingly have to be entrepreneurs, creating their own companies and acting as consultants, advisors, technical assistance and technology transfer agents. They also work in landscaping and urban pest management. To achieve this, they must continually update themselves, incorporating modern techniques such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, information technology, automation, nanotechnology and precision agriculture.

These are the reasons that lead society to evaluate the agricultural engineer as one of the most important professionals. This professional was one of the first, among those who carry out technological activities, whose activities were regulated. It was on October 12th, in the distant year of 1933, that then President Getúlio Vargas regulated the profession of agricultural engineer through a Decree. That's why we celebrate National Agricultural Engineer's Day on October 12th.

Agricultural engineers, together with rural producers, are mainly responsible for the performance of agriculture in Brazil, responsible for around 22% of the country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product), 33% of jobs and 40% of exports. If it weren't for agriculture, our trade balance would be negative. It is the sector that has been avoiding an even greater economic crisis in Brazil. In addition to producing food to meet national demand (we depend less and less on imported agricultural products), we are seen by the world as the country that will contribute most to meeting food needs around the world. We are producing with quality, meeting the demands of extremely sophisticated markets. Our foods are healthy, contributing to a better quality of life for consumers. We need to improve in several aspects, such as adding value to agricultural products, solving logistics problems, environmental, labor and land legislation. More challenges for agricultural engineers.

It is essential that the training of these professionals is increasingly better. Currently, there are more than 350 Agricultural Engineering courses in Brazil, which must excel in quality. There is a need for rigor in authorizing the opening of new courses. There is also a need for quality continuing education, so that there is professional updating and recycling, with the incorporation of all innovations developed. Brazil is a country with natural resources (soil, water, sun) and technology to continue producing more and more sustainably. Some technologies such as direct sowing/planting, low-carbon agriculture, crop-livestock-forest integration, etc. has contributed to the increasingly better performance of Brazilian agriculture.

It is important that the urban population, which is growing in Brazil, knows and values ​​agricultural engineers. He is the professional who can contribute to improving people's health and longevity, improving the much-desired sustainability, in addition to helping to overcome the economic and social difficulties of our country, generating jobs and income. To all agricultural engineers: congratulations on your day!

By José Otavio Menten, Financial Director of the Sustainable Agro Scientific Council (CCAS), Vice-President of the Brazilian Association of Higher Agricultural Education (ABEAS), Agronomist, Master and Doctor in Agronomy, Post-Doctorates in Pest Management and Biotechnology, Associate Professor at ESALQ/USP

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