October 15, 2018

Only 30.2% of Brazil's Land Area used for Agricultural Production

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

As Brazil emerges as one of the largest commodity producers and exporters in the world, there have been questions if the agricultural expansion in Brazil can be sustained without harm being done to the Amazon Rainforest.

According to Eumar Novacki, executive secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, the answer to that question is yes. At a recent meeting organized by Trouw Nutrition in Atibaia, Sao Paulo to discuss world agricultural production, Novacki assured the participants that Brazil is capable of doing their part to increase food production in a sustainable manor while still respecting the environment.

He explained that 30.2% of Brazil's land area is dedicated to agricultural production while 66% of Brazil's land area is still in its native vegetation. Even though Brazil only uses 30.2% of its land area for agriculture, Brazil is a leader in the production of soybeans, corn, cotton, coffee, sugar, ethanol, citrus, tobacco, and animal protein. Brazil is number one in poultry and beef exports and number four in pork exports. Brazil is number two in poultry and beef production and number four in pork production.

In recent years, there has been a concerted effort by Brazilian research organizations such as Embrapa to promote increased productivity on existing agricultural land in an effort to reduce the pressure for the clearing of new land. They have shown that long term rotations between pastures and row crops can result in increased production of both animals and crops.

Most people do not realize Brazil's size. Brazil is larger than the United States if Alaska is excluded. The entire country has a tropical or sub-tropical climate with many areas capable of producing two or more crops per year. The technical expertise of Brazilian farmers is equal to anyone in the world. The biggest drawback for Brazilian agriculture is inadequate infrastructure, but that is slowly improving.

The rate of deforestation in the Amazon Region has been greatly reduced in recent years although it will never be completely eliminated. Most of the illegal deforestation is occurring in remote areas for lumber extraction, mining, subsistent agriculture, and cattle ranching. The Brazilian government's efforts to curtail deforestation fluctuates depending on administrations, but the overall trajectory is for reduced deforestation.