Back
December 22, 2016

Only 5% of Brazil's Land Area is dedicated to Row Crop Agriculture

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The Brazilian farming sector is concerned about new environmental laws that may restrict agricultural expansion in the country. Brazil already has the highest percentage of land in native vegetation or in conservation areas than any other large country. Brazil has 850 million hectares of land, but only 5% is dedicated to row crop production.

According to satellite studies conducted by Embrapa, Brazil has 61% of its territory in native vegetation or in conservation areas with much of the land in areas that could be productive agriculture. By comparison, Australia has 17.5% of its land area in native vegetation or conservation areas, China has 14.3%, United States 12%, Russia and Canada have 9%, and India has 5%.

According to the president of the Agriculture and Irrigators Association of Bahia (Aiba), Julio Cezar Busato, this disparity in the amount of preserved land raises the question of why Brazil should be prevented from expanding their agricultural area when Brazil already has the largest conserved area in the world and one of the lowest percentages of its land area dedicated to row crop production.

His question is in reference to the possibility of a moratorium on soybean expansion in the cerrado areas of northeastern Brazil, which include the states of Bahia, Piaui, Maranhao, and Tocantins in order to preserve the local biome. He questions why Brazil should be prevented from expanding its agriculture while Brazil already has the largest preserved area in the world and other countries are not being prevented from expanding their agriculture.

Aiba feels that the solution is not to restrict expansion, but to do it in a sustainable way by using the best practices available. They feel many farmers in the region are already practicing sustainable agriculture and they point out that productive agriculture not only supplies food for the world, but it also improves the lives of farmers, workers, mechanics, tractor drivers, agricultural professionals, etc.