28 February 2010

Day One and Two - Feb 23 and 24

Today we are in Cuiaba, Brazil (KWEE-A-BAH). Yesterday was a morning filled with meetings and briefings with the Agricultural Ministry, the Environment and Renewables and the National Bureau of Infrastructure Support (DNIT) before hopping on a plane from Brasilia to Cuiaba. Here’s a quick overview of Brazilian Agriculture thus far. The investment in tropical agriculture technology allowed the expansion toward the center and the west of the country. Brazilians spend a lot of time and money researching how to use resources to be able to extend the soil in the tropical and subtropical climates. We’ve talked before about Brazil’s lack of infrastructure… So they utilize the central areas to ease their export. When you look at Land Use – Agriculture makes up 31.3% of it. With 20.2% Pastures, 6.8% annual crops, 1.7% permanent crops and 2.5% planted forest. The folks with the Agricultural Department were quick to point out Brazilian Agriculture doesn’t rely on public support.. However their business is run on 33% personal investment, 33% rural credit and 33% government loans that are to be paid back within a year.

Yesterday we also learned about EMBRAPA which is similar to our USDA ARS. They were established in 1973 and employ 8.400. Of that 8,400: 2,210 are scientist… 1,650 are PhD’s and they operate on a $650 million budget. That also includes 39 research centers and two labs abroad.

They said their goals are to:
1) Increase rural credit
2) Support commercialization
3) Enhance rural
4) Strengthening the middle size grower
5) Strengthing the cooperatives
6) Encourage the sustainable development of ag and recovery of grasslands.

The Brazilian environmental law is extensive.. For example to take care of the forests, every railroad property is required to keep up the natual habitat. When farmer purchased ground in 60’s they were able to clear and farm 80% of the ground and keep 20% in its natural state. However in today’s times.. They keep 80% of the ground in its natural state and are allowed to farm 20%. If producers don’t follow these regulations they are often times confronted with military enforcement and sentenced to jail time or ordered to pay fines.

Infrastructure is a hot topic from the United States all the way to Brazil. The main purpose of DNIT is to take care of the highways and railways and waterways. BR163 is the main highway to go to other states and other countries. They budget roughly $3.5B Real for infrastructure with 30% of that going to new projects.

There is a ton of information and this just scratches the surface. We’re headed to meet with the Assistant Governor and the Enviromenmental Secretary before heading to Lucas do Rio Verde tomorrow afternoon.

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