Free Software Network for Agriculture

The term free software refers to a category of computer programs in which the user is allowed to execute, copy, distribute, evaluate, modify and improve the source code without having to request permission from its author.

Several initiatives have been undertaken to foster the development of free software in Brazil, especially in the public sector. The objective is not only to reduce the expenditures with software acquisition, but also to improve the technological autonomy of the country and promote digital inclusion.

Embrapa - Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, a national reference in agricultural research, holds the technical expertise to support and foster the use and development of free software for agricultural sector. Embrapa has established the adequate conditions for acting in this sector because of the technical competence of its IT professionals and because it has 40 research units distributed throughout Brazil.

As a result, the Free Software Network for Agriculture (AgroLivre) has emerged with the purpose of satisfying the agricultural sector demands, in areas such as decision support, scientific research supporting tools and digital inclusion.

AgroLivre is a project coordinated by two of Embrapa's research units: the Information Technology Department (DTI) e Embrapa Agriculture Informatics. The first is responsible for the definition of policies aiming at the adoption of free software and digital certificates by the corporation. Embrapa Agriculture Informatics is responsible for the coordination of the free software repository for the agricultural sector, as well as the creation and maintenance of the AgroLivre’s website.

From Embrapa Information Technology’s viewpoint, the AgroLivre project opens up the opportunity not only to support the adoption of existing free software, but also to generate new systems to facilitate access to the information available for the agricultural sector.

The expertise of the Information Technology Department in this process is essential for the deployment and effective use of free software throughout the corporation, in accordance to federal government policies. The free software used in the corporation covers from management systems to office tools. In particular, the management systems should be adapted and developed to deal appropriately with digital certificates. This would create the appropriate conditions to speed up the transit of documents both internally and externally, increasing corporation's efficiency and effectiveness.

The support provided by the National Information Technology Institute (ITI) in this challenge is fundamental not only to develop digital certification projects, but also because to foster the use of free software within the federal government. This would benefit directly and indirectly the Brazilian population.