Sustainability and innovation are essential for agriculture’s future

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The subject was addressed during a side event as part of the program of Itaipu and the Itaipu Tech Park during Expo 2020 Dubai. Cover photo: Alexandre Marchetti/IB

In Brazil, where hydroelectric plants account for around 70% of electricity generation and agriculture accounts for almost a third of the national GDP, energy production and food cultivation have a lot in common, especially the need to take care of water and the environment, to ensure the conditions to produce in the long term.

Panelists of the side event at Expo 2020 Dubai. Photo: Rodrigo Sodré/Istreamingstudio

The subject was addressed during the event “How to promote sustainable agribusiness in Brazil for bilateral cooperation with the United Arab Emirates”, this Thursday (24), as part of the program of Itaipu Binacional and the Itaipu Tech Park (PTI) during Expo 2020 Dubai.

The hybrid event (with online and in-person panelists) showed how sustainability and innovation should be the watchwords in agribusiness to conquer international markets.

The western region of Paraná State, near the Itaipu reservoir, is among the main centers of Brazilian agriculture and concentrates some of the largest cooperatives in Latin America. And they have in the Middle East one of the most important destinations for their exports, especially in the production of chicken.

“The Arab world ranks third in terms of Brazilian exports and, in the Arab world, the United Arab Emirates is number one. We can greatly improve this relationship, especially with investments in technology,” stated Rafael Solimeo, head of the international office of the Arab-Brazil Chamber of Commerce in Dubai and responsible for moderating the debate.

“The Expo is a great opportunity to increase business, and the Arab countries have extraordinary potential”, added Itaipu’s counselor, Cida Borghetti, opening the event. She also highlighted Itaipu’s direct contributions to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, Zero Hunger and Sustainable Agriculture.

These contributions were more detailed during the technical session of the event, with emphasis on the recovery of springs, the protection of watercourses, rural sanitation, and the conservation of soils and biodiversity, among others.

“These actions are important to provide conditions for prosperity that are shared with the whole society and, in this case, with the agricultural production at the nearby territory”, said the Head of Environmental Management at Itaipu, Ariel Scheffer da Silva. As an example, he highlighted the LIFE Standard, which allows measuring territorial sustainability through various parameters and indicators.

In addition to conservation actions, the PTI has among its strategic objectives to improve the competitiveness of agriculture, with the aggregation of new technologies that provide better production conditions, such as interconnectivity, artificial intelligence, data management, among others.

“Agriculture is the natural vocation of Western Paraná. And the role of PTI is to encourage startups that will make it more competitive and generate new jobs and income”, said the director of Business and Innovation of PTI, Rodrigo Régis.

The farmers’ point of view was presented by Dilvo Groli, president of Coopavel, a cooperative that broke record sales in 2021, of US$ 1 billion in sales in the year. He highlighted the benefits generated by the Itaipu and PTI initiatives, with emphasis on the Impulso Space, an innovation laboratory for the future of agribusiness, inaugurated at the last Show Rural Coopavel (a technical event that is held every February by the cooperative).

Regarding the potential for future investments, the coordinator of the RenovaPR Program (a state initiative to promote renewable energies in farms), Herlon Goelzer de Almeida, presented the need to invest US$ 3.2 billion in renewable energies in Paraná, until 2030. “This has the potential to provide financial return and also contribute to compensating greenhouse gas emissions”, he concluded.