Thursday, June 17, 2010

July 17- Ministry of Agrilcutre - Dept of Agribusiness International Program

I returned to the Ministry of Agriculture later in the afternoon to meet with the Director of the Department of Agribusiness International Promotion. He provided me with a complete overview of Brazilian agriculture - where they are growing what crops, how much, expansion, and more. Again, we discussed the challenges of a poor infrastructure system.

Some sustainable agricultural programs and initiatives we discussed included:

  • flexible fuels
  • clean energy alternatives - half of Brazil's energy comes from sugar cane (burning the mass for energy purpose), biomass and hydraulic/electric
  • integrated crop-livestock-forestry production system
  • no tillage system to save fuel, prevent soil erosion, improve water retention, reduce carbon gases, long term productivity improvement
  • two and three crop productions
  • alternative chemical techniques
  • adoption of micro basins as the basic planning units for rural areas
  • new crop varieties
  • buyers receiving tax exemptions if they purchase the crops of small farmers from poorer regions
  • introduction of mechanized farming practices
  • legal restrictions on land utilization - in the Amazon a farmer must keep 80% of his/her land in legal reserve and only farm 20%. If it has been previously cleared, he/she must replant. Other areas vary with reserves between 20-35%. Additionally, it is mandatory to preserve river banks, areas around lagoons, lakes, or water reservoirs and peaks.

These steps will continue to strengthen Brazil's agricultural potential. Again, many of their agricultural industries such as ethanol are young and have not come close to meeting their capacity. Brazil land resources, technology and investment capacity are rare and have tremendous potential with cautious advancement. The Ministry of Agriculture sites its top goal as protecting the environment.

Below is a bit of information on Brazil to help keep things in scale:

  • area: 8,514,000 km2 (5th largest)
  • population: 191.3 million (5th largest population)
  • GDP: US $1.6 trillion (10th biggest economy)
  • Per Capita income: US $8,ooo
  • 2009 Exports: US $159 billion
  • 2009 Imports: US $136 billion
  • Agriculture and livestock areas make up approx. 30% of Brazil's territory mainly in the southern and central regions

Brazilian Exports:

Product /Export in US$ billions

Sugar /8.378

Coffee/ 3.762 (major threat is Vietnam who is exporting Robusto coffee which is used for instant; Brazil exports this as well but Arabica is what we mainly import)

Orange Juice / 1.619

Soybean/ 11.413

Beef /4.118

other top exports include tobacco, ethanol, chicken, corn

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