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AgriteRRIs: a network to reinvent international cooperation

Born in February 2007 from the foundations of longstanding cooperation between Argentina and France, and subsequently joined by Brazil, the AgriteRRIs International Research Laboratory is evolving; it has now become an international research network (2RI) and forms one of the cornerstones of INRA’s policies between now and 2025. But what has really changed? And what can this network contribute in practice?

In the pampas of Rio Grande do Sùl (Brazil), a scientist from the University of Porto Alegre discusses with a breeder and a consultant from the SIA (Serviço de Inteligência em Agronegócios) the positive effects of a diverse plant structure on the appetite of cows. © INRA, MEURET Michel
By Anaïs Bozino, translated by Vicky Hawken
Updated on 09/07/2017
Published on 08/28/2017

“Changing AgriteRRIs into a 2RI will enhance its visibility and reputation", explains the senior scientist, Christophe Albaladejo, who had a crucial role in creating the network. AgriteRRIs was evaluated between 2012 and 2015 according to a procedure developed by a Steering Committee with members from INRA, INTA (Argentine Institute for Agricultural Research) and the National University of La Plata (delegated by the other partners in AgriteRRIs).  The evaluation was performed by an international committee made up of independent scientists from the USA, Uruguay, Brazil, France and Argentina.  It concluded that the AgriteRRIs Laboratory acted as a catalyst for research and a driver for development through the training of territorial actors. As a result of the recommendations made by the evaluation committee, it was decided to institutionalise the laboratory by turning it into a 2RI. The committee also suggested reinforcing the Brazilian component, notably by increasing research facilities in that country. Finally, the evaluation supported the new research objectives chosen by AgriteRRIs, and notably those concerning the links between agriculture and medium-sized towns and regarding public policies. Finally, the committee underlined the originality of the links between research and training as established by AgriteRRIs and proposed that this area should be further developed.

Challenging received wisdom

Since 2009, the central hypothesis for AgriteRRIs has been that several types of agriculture (industrial, entrepreneurial, peasant, organic, etc.) can coexist not only in the same regions but also in the context of public policies, research, the representations of society and in markets, although this combined presence does not always lead to harmonious cohabitation and requires complex agronomic, institutional and social engineering. “For a variety of reasons (land use, cash generation, political power, food sovereignty, etc.), Argentina, Brazil and France have always given particular importance to agriculture as a component of society”, explains Pierre Gasselin, Deputy Head of INRA’s Science for Action and Development Division (SAD). Comparing these three major agricultural powers can drive research on this issue and above all enable the study of different models, while maintaining contacts in the field. “We need to obtain direct knowledge of the situation in other major farming countries, and they also require a clearer understanding of ours, not only through reading our published studies. Furthermore, the scientific context in South America is important to us, as it is a major source of good ideas”, explained Christophe Albaladejo.

When training means action

To highlight its links with training, AgriteRRIs set up a course that would offer real potential for action and research. Indeed, it was in the context of this project that a “Maestría” (the equivalent of a Master’s degree) was created in Argentina.  Agricultural engineers, veterinarians, sociologists or social workers can complete these two years of training, which are designed for those with five years of education after the baccalaureate; in most cases, this is on a part-time basis and their employers ensure they have sufficient time to attend lectures and participate for two or three years in the research conducted by AgriteRRIs.  “This course offers a crucible for the production of research: hundreds of theses and dissertations have so far been generated. The Master’s degree constitutes a major strength for research and binds the community of AgriteRRIs scientists”, explains Pierre Gasselin.

They return to their countries with this intellectual proximity

Furthermore, in the context of Labintex, a wall-less INRA laboratory, experienced Argentine scientists are sent to France not to complete a thesis or postdoctoral attachment but to develop their own lines of research in collaboration with French research institutions. They can thus gain direct knowledge of the approaches adopted by these organisations, in both a cross-disciplinary setting (from hard sciences to human sciences) and in SAD. These scientists will then return to their countries with this intellectual proximity having contributed their experiences to the French teams.

Contact(s)
Scientific contact(s):

  • Christophe Albaladejo, Senior Scientist, French co-director of AgriteRRIs
  • Pierre Gasselin, Deputy Head, INRA’s Science for Action and Development Division (SAD)
Associated Division(s):
Science for Action and Development

about

The role of INRA in 2RI AgriteRRIs training

As soon as he joined INRA in 1982 as an Associate Scientist on Contract (ASC), Christophe Albaladejo – then a PhD student in geography and development in the Alpine Geography Institute at Grenoble University – realised the value of pursuing research on development in the context of cooperation between France and Argentina, and more generally with countries in South America.  

“INRA has a long history of cooperation with Argentina. The Institute’s experience in other countries supplements the important tradition of cooperation accumulated by the IRD (Institute for Research and Development) and CIRAD (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development), which is why the three institutions are stakeholders in the new international research network (alongside universities) which enables the training of numerous research scientists and also generates value at all levels!  Because French agricultural cooperation is such an important activity, it is essential for INRA to be involved in it on a long-term basis”.

For more information on AgriteRRIs

for more information

Who are the partners in AgriteRRIs?

At present, ten partners have joined forces to set up the 2Ri AgriteRRIs: INRA, Université de Toulouse II Jean-Jaurès, Montpellier SupAgro, CIRAD (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development) and IRD (Institute for Research and Development) in France, INTA and the national universities of La Plata, Mar del Plata and of the South in Argentina, and the Federal University of Para in Brazil.