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Far beyond the economy

Economic indicators have had a dominant presence when one has to evaluate the impacts of agricultural research. Now, Unicamp is developing a project that intends to also get to the environmental and social reverberations and the professional training generated as a consequence of them. “We are going to consider each one of these areas separately, and then afterwards place all of the factors on the same table and then analyze them”, explains the researcher Claudenício Ferreira, of the Political Science and Technology Department of the Geosciences Institute of Unicamp.

This tool of global analysis is being developed with the support of FAPESP and in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Provisions of the State of São Paulo, who opened the doors of the Agronomy Institute of Campinas (IAC). By the way, two technological programs of the IAC, by indication, are serving as the model for this work: Healthy Seedlings for Citrus Farming that began in 1990, and Pro-Sugarcane that started in 1992.

According to Claudenício Ferreira, “the intention is to create a methodology applicable to any technological program.” Financing agencies, universities and private enterprise will be able to know the true use of the research that they are financing and developing. “It is necessary to have a return on the money invested, mainly to know how set future investment priorities”, observes the researcher. The project has been at the stage of execution since December of last year and can already count upon the assistance of new participants, among them Embrapa, the Economics Institute of Unicamp, and the Interamerican Institute of Agricultural Cooperation of Costa Rica.

Even the economic analysis, which will restrict itself to productivity indicators, will be much more detailed, reporting, for example, what are the impacts of the research at the IAC on the investments in genetic improvement done by private companies. In the social areas, the environment and training, the increase or the decrease in the number of jobs will be calculated, as well as the degree of pollution and the usefulness of the training generated by the technologies.