Eliseu Alves - - - -
Norman Borlaug a friend of Embrapa and of Brazil

Eliseu Alves*

The death of Norman Borlaug represents a great loss to Brazil and to Embrapa. His contributions to the Country and to Brazilian research are profound and numerous. Cerrados, wheat and corn development are areas where his leadership was decisive to the achievements of our modern agriculture. But much more than that, his contributions were fantastic in the field of institutional building. Embrapa owes a great deal of his success as an organization to his advices and incentives.

Embrapa faced difficult times at the first years of its existence. Strong resistance against the national center model it had opted for came from many areas of society. Norman was an enthusiastic and strong ally in many levels: Brazilian authorities, USAID, World Bank, Inter-American Bank and American Universities. He opened the doors of the two banks to loan funds to Embrapa, and the funds were critical to the researcher training program at advanced level and to the development of modern laboratories. And the success of Embrapa is very much related to the model choice and to its training program.

Clear ideas and the decision to implements then beyond any doubt were fundamental in the first years of Embrapa. But without results to justify society investments Embrapa would be born dead. The pragmatism of Norman Borlaug was of real help. He joined our researchers in the Cerrado, Wheat and Corn Centers to make then a success by generating profitable technologies to the producers.

As President of Embrapa I faced many challenges, difficult times and crisis. He did not failed in giving me incentives and in pointing me that we were moving in the right direction and that Brazilian agriculture deserved the sacrifices that we had to support.

He had a pervasive influence over the CGIAR System, and by him the doors were open to a general and very effective collaboration, in equal terms, with Embrapa which was and it is very important to both sides.

In all dimensions, Norman Borlaug succeeded, in humanism, as scientist, and as an executive. Before he left us, he was in Africa firmly determined o show that modern agriculture is a solution to poverty problems and economic development. He left us and joined the Lord, of whom he had been a friend for the entire life.

*Eliseu Alves, agronomist, was director, president and part of the group that designed Embrapa.

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