INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) is the number one research organization in Europe, and number two in the world today in agricultural sciences, plant sciences and the environment, thanks to its publications. Because of its mission-oriented research program, the Institute must combine scientific excellence with the task of translating the questions raised by its partners (government bodies, farming and food industry and non-profit making organizations) into research projects.
For more than 60 years, INRA has been performing research in the areas of agriculture, food, nutrition and the environment, with an eye to social issues and a focus on excellence. The Institute has thus produced knowledge and innovations which initially contributed to the modernization of French agriculture after the war and then accompanied the expansion of the agri-food industry in the 1960s and 1970s. INRA committed itself to the construction of European research 20 years ago and has since strengthened its international partnerships. Research topics, methods and professions have changed considerably in order to adapt to the complexity of today’s research priorities, which often require multidisciplinary approaches adapted to the study of a global production system and worldwide exchanges.
Developing international partnerships, encouraging global mobility and welcoming researchers from abroad, INRA has collaborated with research institutes in more than 30 countries worldwide: European Union countries, the United States, Canada, emerging countries (China, India, Brazil), etc. It takes part in an international project that assesses the contribution of agricultural research (within the framework of an international study supported by the FAO and the World Bank) and in the development of European research strategies: sustainable animal breeding, a global vision of the plant world, etc.
1,839 researchers and 1,891 doctoral students work at INRA; more than 1,500 foreign researchers and students come to INRA every year. Research equipment, experimental facilities and major technology transfer are managed by a staff of 2,572 engineers and 4,121 technicians.
For example, INRA is responsible for the European project Triticeae Genome. Triticeae cereals
(wheat, barley and rye) represent major renewable resources for food, feed and industrial raw materials and are the most important crops for European agriculture. The complexity of their genome has made it very difficult to apply genomics technologies to those plants. That is why the goal of this project is to develop genomic tools for those cereals to better understand the way they work and therefore create better varieties and ensure better yields. One of the main objectives is to establish a technical strategy for genomics in wheat and barley, two of the most challenging genomes yet to be mapped!
During the decade 2010-2020, INRA will develop metaprograms – research programs with a broadened scope of study which combine several disciplines. Such an integrated approach is essential to making progress on global food, agricultural and environmental issues.
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