Legacy
alysson paolinelli

As a professor, Secretary and Minister of Agriculture, member of the National Congress, and rural leader, Alysson Paolinelli led the sustainable tropical agricultural revolution, starting in the 1970s. It was one of the most striking economic and social facts of the second half of the 20th century, in Brazil.

It was a revolution backed by visions of food security and sustainability. The history of Brazilian agriculture changed and today, at the age of 84, Paolinelli maintains an even greater enthusiasm for the contributions that tropical agriculture has to make to the country and the world.

Primacy of science

In the 1970s, Brazil was a net importer of staple foods and the agricultural revolution ensured food self-sufficiency and reduced food weight in household consumption expenditures. The country has become a pilar of the global food security balance, representing today 16.2% of the world’s export of staple foods.

To boost this agricultural leap, Paolinelli prioritized science. He structured a unique tropical agricultural research system in the world, the highlight of which was Embrapa, the largest agricultural technology corporation in the tropical world, today with 2,400 researchers and 42 decentralized research units, 26 of them created when he was Minister of Agriculture.

alysson paolinelli
alysson paolinelli
alysson paolinelli

Roots to grow

Paolinelli also established the roots that the sustainable tropical agricultural revolution needed to grow and bear fruit. As Minister, he created institutions, policies and organizations that enabled the modernization of traditional agriculture. One of the main ones was the Cerrados Development Program (Polocentro), which formulated agricultural policies for the region. This and other initiatives were essential to institutionalize the governance structure that drives the expansion of the tropical agricultural revolution until today.
Alysson Paolinelli played a structuring role regarding research and technical assistance and rural extension corporations, implemented settlement and development programs among the farmers, as well as the creation and viability of credit to build the necessary changes to promote modern and sustainable agriculture. All of this was done from the incorporation of the cerrado as a productive territory.

alysson paolinelli

Food security

Currently, the 1,102 municipalities located in the Cerrado biome produce 46% of the country’s soybean crop, 49% of corn, 93% of cotton, and 25% of coffee. In livestock, it is responsible for 32% of the cattle herd, 22% of chickens and 22% of pigs, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

In the 1970s, Brazil was an importer of basic foods. The agricultural revolution brought self-sufficiency and reduced the weight of food in household consumption expenditures. Brazil has also become the highlight of world food security, with almost 20% of the international trade in basic foods.

Land-sparring effect and preservation

Thanks to a huge leap in productivity, the agricultural revolution provided a land-sparring effect of 128 million hectares. This would be the additional area needed to reach our current production of cereals and oilseeds, without productivity gains. As a result of this efficiency, the Brazilian Cerrado preserves 54% of the area with natural vegetation cover, 35% of which is protected by law and prohibited from economic exploitation.

alysson paolinelli

Human development

The sustainable tropical agricultural revolution internalized development, generating jobs, increasing income, and improving the Municipal Human Development Index (MHDI) in agricultural-based regions. The MHDI increased by 73% from 1990 to 2010.

Renewable energy

Paolinelli participated in the creation of Proálcool (1975), the first worldwide program for the large-scale production of renewable fuel from biomass. Today the emissions neutralized by the program are around 200 million tons of CO²/year, with benefits for people’s health and well-being.

alysson paolinelli
alysson paolinelli
alysson paolinelli

Sustainability

The achievements of Paolinelli’s tropical agricultural revolution have aligned, since its conception, with concepts of sustainability.  So much so that 12  Sustainable Development Objectives  (SDOs) from United Nations receive positive impacts from his legacy just today.