Agri juggernaut - how agriculture in Brazil is booming
Brazil's agricultural revolution could make it the world's largest food exporter within a decade
Published 16/03/2016 | 02:30
Brazilian agriculture could be every Irish farmer's dream. Endless acres of quality land, rainfall levels similar to our own and sunshine like Spain means everything just grows faster, bigger and better all year round. Brazil is larger than the entire continent of Europe, and while 61pc of the country is still covered by scrub and trees, they are reclaiming or breaking new land for agricultural production at breakneck speed.
With the world's population projected to increase to 9bn by 2050, Brazil sees itself as a solution to this problem. According to the OECD-FAO, Brazil will account for 40pc of the increase in the world's food production over the next decade,
The centre of commerce in Brazil is the south. Sao Paulo has a population of 20 million, Rio de Janeiro six million and the entire country has a population of 202 million. Farm size is smaller in the southern states and land prices are higher, if you want to make it in farming in Brazil the tradition has been to head north.
Pioneer farmers sell their holdings in the south, purchase more land with the same money further north where they break or reclaim the land and plant it in crops primarily soya, corn (maize meal), sugar cane and cotton. Soya and corn account for 80pc of land area and 86pc of production.
The scale and speed of this land development is quite breath-taking. Brazil currently has 330 million hectares of agricultural land (39pc of the country); 165 million ha are in arable crop production but it has a further 100 million ha which it expects to enter agricultural production in the near future.
It is currently the world's largest exporter of sugar, coffee, orange juice and the second largest exporter of soya, beef and corn.
The boom in Brazilian agriculture began in the 1970s with scientific advancements in soya bean production.
They speak of agriculture before and after soya; Brazil was a net importer of food in that period and is now the second largest exporter of food in the world. It is difficult to see who can compete with them if they manage to bring the virgin land of the Cerrado and the Savanas into agricultural production.