Brazil is the fifth largest economy in the world, and a world-leading agricultural producer – and exporter. The country is well endowed with natural as well as human resources, and has developed a strong farming sector built on scientific knowledge and business acumen.
Brazil is also the world’s fifth largest country, in terms of area. It comprises vast forests and wide-ranging savannahs, the latter harboring the largest remaining areas in the world suited for farming. As much as 250 million hectares can, theoretically, be added to Brazil’s existing farmland of 50 million ha, according to official estimates. No other country has comparable land resources fit for farming – and water resources to support it.
"Brazil is a privileged land. We have everything."
Francisco Turra, Former minister of agriculture
Brazil’s agriculture has undergone a radical shift over the past few centuries. Policy reforms have encouraged the sector’s modernization and eased its entry into global markets. Political and economic stability have added to rapid agricultural growth.
Francisco Turra has been part of the sector’s transformation since the 1990s, when he served as Brazil’s minister of agriculture and supplies. “This country,” he says, "is privileged with land, climate, soil and water. We have everything."
In the past 15 years, Turra notes, Brazilian agricultural production increased by 156 percent. More than five million farms are behind the achievement, and agriculture contributes greatly to the country’s economic growth. “Agribusiness,” he says, “has been carrying the Brazilian economy.”
Turra points to the diversity, to the production of cash crops, to the position as global number one exporter of coffee, a leading world producer of sugarcane – of which a large share is used for the production of ethanol, which Brazil has pioneered – and soybeans. The latter is a major source for animal and fish protein, contributing to global food security.
"Brazil," Francisco Turra adds, "also has a diversity of fruit and flower production; everything you can imagine."
Suemi Koshiama is part of Brazil’s fruit sector, with his farm in Petrolina in the state of Pernambuco. Here, he harvests an annual yield of about 10,000 tons of mangos, and 12,000 tons of grapes. His produce is sorted and packed on the farm, to be dispatched both to the domestic and an export market – adding to Brazil’s gross domestic product as well as agricultural trade surplus.
Harvesting throughout the year, Koshiama relies on the combined application of fertilizers and water, known as fertigation – with plant nutrients supplied by Yara. “We have been working a lot with Yara fertilizer, which has the elements that cannot be missing in production of fruit,” the farmer says.
Ample water resources constitute one key to the agricultural success of Brazil; fertilizer application knowledge is another. Already, these and other crucial factors have made Brazil the world’s largest exporter of soybeans and coffee, sugar and orange juice concentrate, and a major supplier of maize, cotton and cocoa, as well as of beef, poultry and pork. Altogether, agricultural products account for approximately 40 percent of Brazil’s exports.