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November 20, 2017

Brazil Highlights Low Carbon Agriculture at Bonn Climate Meeting

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

At the recent climate meeting held in Bonn, Germany, the Brazilian government once again affirmed their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by emphasizing their Plano ABC. The Plano ABC (ABC Plan) is the government's premier effort for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. The complete name of the program is the Agricultural Plan for Low Carbon Emissions (Plan de Agricultura de Baxia Emissao de Carbono).

One of the primary ways they intend to reduce carbon emissions is with their integrated crop-livestock-forest program (Rede ILPF) developed by the Brazilian agricultural research service, Embrapa. The program entails a long term rotation using row crops, followed by pasture which is then followed by reforestation using eucalyptus trees. Once the trees are harvested, the rotation starts over again.

Embrapa started promoting this program about a decade ago and the Brazilian government in 2009 set a goal of 4 million hectares in this program by the year 2020. They have far surpassed that goal with 11.5 million hectares in the program by 2017.

The international community recognizes the fact that Brazil is quickly becoming one of the primary countries that needs to increase agricultural production in order for the world to have food security in the future. As the Brazilian ambassador stated at the meeting - Brazil is well ahead of other countries in the development of sustainable agriculture and the technologies developed in Brazil could be applied across Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

The ultimate goal of sustainable agriculture is to increase productivity on existing areas thus reducing the pressure on deforestation in the Amazon Region. Deforestation is a primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries because burning the trees not only releases the gasses, the trees are then not available to absorb the carbon dioxide. Therefore, sustainable agriculture can go a long way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

These efforts cost money of course and Brazil is requesting financial assistance to implement a program called the "Program for Food and Nutrition Security, Appreciating Tropical Agriculture Innovation: Rede ILPF an alternative for tomorrow's agriculture." In order to implement this integrated program, the Brazilian government is soliciting one billion dollars over the next ten years from international institutions.

The Brazilian government has set up a committee to oversee the ABC Plan and to insure that the greenhouse gas reductions are monitored accurately. The Committee will be directed by a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, but it will also be composed of representatives from Embrapa, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication, the Bank of Brazil, the National Development Bank (BNDES), the private sector, and civic organizations.