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Kátia Abreu Headshot

Brazil Can Feed the World Without Harming Nature

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Brazil is prepared to feed the world without destroying the environment. Our agriculture has grown 247.13% in the last 35 years, but has saved 73.3 million hectares of natural forest. This was the result of investments in technology, generating 151% gains in productivity, even though the area occupied by rural activity increased 31% only in the same period. Brazil is one of the most sustainable agricultural productions on the planet, but rural activity takes just 27.7% of our territory, while maintaining 61% of the preserved land.

Brazilian agronomic yield numbers are impressive and it makes Brazil the third largest food manufacturer in the world, including for the production of bio-fuels. In 2010, Brazil was the largest producer and exporter of sugar, coffee, orange juice and ethanol. The United States alone imported US$ 3.1 billion in agrarian goods from Brazil that year, an increase of 16.3% compared to 2009. However, the sector's expansion is also because of the Brazilian purchasing power, which has been rising.

Today 70% of our products are directed toward internal consumption. Meanwhile, beef cattle production has expanded 39% in the last 11 years, reaching 11.4 million tons in 2011. We can improve these numbers if we invest in fertilizer to expedite the cattle growing time.

The Brazilian agribusiness is responsible for 22.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which corresponds to US$ 467.9 billion, 37% of jobs and 37.9% of exports, and returns US$ 76.44 billion in revenue back to the nation. Due to our agribusiness success, we were able to reduce the impact of the worldwide crises on our economy.

Brazil also has been making new commercial partners. Our poultry industry, for example, was focused on European market in the past. Today, China and the United States are very important buyers. However, the Brazilian agribusiness numbers could be even better. We can improve this picture if we invest more in research and technology.

The Brazilian Forest Code upgrade is also very important. The new Forest Code version foresees legal rights to whom is capitalizing on the property and requests that the agricultural activity area be reduced. The farm representatives, who are the majority in Congress and Senate, have agreed to decrease production are in 30%. Brazil is the only country in the world that refuses in such a degree to use deforestation to increase access to farmable land. This agreement makes the need to invest in technology even more urgent. Global demand requires that Brazil produce 2.8 billion tons by 2050. We'll get there, but we must continue tracing the path of technology.

Also, we have the Biomes Project, a partnership between CNA and Embrapa, which develops sustainable agricultural production on rural properties. Small farmers do not have the capacity to invest in technology. Because of that, we are creating technical demonstration cells in six Brazilian biomes to allow them to follow these practices.

Senator Kátia Abreu is the President of the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA). Last February 9th, Abreu presented a lecture at Harvard University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.