Monday, June 14, 2010

July 14 - Conab and Ministery of Agriculture

This morning, my translator, Marco and I met with Marcelo Ferraz the Superintendent of the Rio de Janeiro office of Conab.

Conab's mission is to contribute to the regularity of supply and guarentee income to farmers, participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and agricultural supply. Their office works with the Ministry of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger. Conab works with farmers to protect a product price to secure their futures. They work to secure the existance of the smaller farmers. Once Conab purchases the output - grain, corn, soy, sugar cane, etc - it will sell them, contribute to the processing or distribute the food to the poor.

Conab would like to continue to expand its trade for its farmers. Changes in the US Farm Bill in 2011 may lead to a more open trade with Brazil and the US. Currently, they feel the fees to enter the US are too high to make their products economically feasiable. Other obstacles include the exchange rate to export; subsidizse that exist in the US and Europe making their imported products to costly.

Given, we had a good amount of time before our next meeting, Marcelo invited us to walk around the city and to lunch. We had lunch at the Naval Club. We had a local dish of a root vegetable with spices and shrimp and artisan cheese with guava for dessert. We had a wonderful time sharing stories and only to find out that Marcelo himself is a farmer!

After lunch we met with Pedro Cabral, Superintendent of the Ministry of Agriculture. Along with a spectacular view of the water from his office, he shared with us two of Brazil's programs. One on carbon offsets and the other on new planthing methods to increase yields. Brazil's agricultural out puts continue to grow at a high rate ranging from 20-40% by 2020.

The government is investing in having farmers replant 6 million hectacres (1 acre=2.47 hectacres) which will assist Brazil in reducing its carbon outputs by 10 million tons of carbon. New production methods are helping keep important nutrients in the soil and stopping farmers from burning off their crops (as how it was done) for replanting.

We spoke about concerns as Brazil becomes a larger global player. He feels there are several misconceptions of Brazil's agriculture:

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