The biggest of the Latin American countries with 201 million inhabitants and a surface area of 8,514,876 sq.km, Brazil has been confirming its position as a major world agriculture player for several decades now. Although its agriculture and some 5 million farms - occupying an average surface area of 68 ha - established on 340 million hectares of its arable land area only represent around 5% of its GDP, the country nonetheless remains a great agricultural export power, and leader in the production of coffee, raw sugar, bioethanol, soya and poultry.
Volatility of prices and risk management : How is this affecting your supplies and market strategies?
Public policies on supporting the agricultural sector in a market and risk management situation apply at two different times - before planting and after harvesting.
Before planting, financial assistance is given to producers for the development of crops and structural investments in properties, with the accent on improving productivity. It is a loan whose repayments and interest rates are adapted to the needs of agricultural activities. After harvesting, mechanisms are set up to support a minimum price for rural producers, which are sufficient to balance income and costs on their farms.
When the market price is below the minimum, we can buy the surplus production to balance the price for the producer in the bidding activities carried out by the Government itself. During purchasing, public stocks are built up and these are then put on the market when prices rise.
Water management : How do you protect this resource and what tools and regulations do you use to optimise its use in agriculture?
In January 1997 in Brazil, Act N° 9433 came into force, establishing a national policy for water resources. Public policies also exist governing the use of water.
Water resources for agricultural use are protected by federal and state agencies. The Minister of Agriculture, stock-rearing and supplies (MAPA) has observed sustainable development practices in its various programmes and plans.
A global cooperation agreement is currently being drawn up between Brazilian federal government agencies. Its aims include the sustainable management of water resources in rural areas. These initiatives demonstrate the high level of care given to water in Brazil. Each year, a report is published on water resources in the country by our national Water Agency, which provides details on various aspects of the management and use of these resources.
Position on GM crops : Do you think the cultivation of genetically modified plants (cereals and protein crops) gives an economically significant advantage to processes that have adopted it, notably in the cereal and stock-rearing industries?
The use of genetically modified seeds is an important advantage for the main producers and exporters of cereals and pulse crops, including Brazil, because it is a technology that lowers production costs, increases productivity and reduces the use of pesticides that are harmful to people and the environment.
would like to emphasise that in Brazil, the adoption of new molecules is the responsibility of the National Technical Commission for Biosecurity, with its reputable scientists and researchers, which approves the use of these products after exhaustive investigations in order to ensure the safety of Brazilian consumers and people all over the world.
Exports : What are the foundations of your export policy, what are your main advantages in this area and are there any adjustments you would like to see concerning WTO regulations?
Brazilian agriculture possesses major advantages in several aspects of the production system. The most important are stable climatic conditions, sufficient rain to grow grain under the tropics as well as vast flat areas fertile soils with despite this, a high degree of acidity. WTO regulations are already reasonable enough to guarantee international trade with relative fluidity.
At the same time, and sadly, many countries have declared themselves in favour of opening up to international trade, but they are maintaining the barriers that prevent imports, as well as calls for tariff peaks and technical or bureaucratic barriers. As for changes to current regulations, Brazil is working enthusiastically to end export subsidies. This is the worst deterioration mechanism on the international market.
Agricultural policies : Is the harmonisation of agricultural policies possible/desirable?
Brazil is not only in favour of the harmonisation of agricultural policies at international level, it is working towards this. The country has active representatives in all the organisations involved in the regulation of the production system, consumption, the sale of foodstuffs and energy products obtained from agriculture, stock-rearing and fishing.