Fateful Harvest: Why Brazil has a big appetite for risky pesticides

Paulo Prada – Reuters, 04/02/2015

The farmers of Brazil have become the world’s top exporters of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, poultry and soybeans. They’ve also earned a more dubious distinction: In 2012, Brazil passed the United States as the largest buyer of pesticides.

This rapid growth has made Brazil an enticing market for pesticides banned or phased out in richer nations because of health or environmental risks.

At least four major pesticide makers – U.S.-based FMC Corp., Denmark’s Cheminova A/S, Helm AG of Germany and Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta AG – sell products here that are no longer allowed in their domestic markets, a Reuters review of registered pesticides found.

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FAPESP Countdown: “Coffee with more gas”

The Brazil Institute is counting down to this year’s FAPESP Week (November 17-21), organized in collaboration with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. The symposium aims at strengthening the links between scientists from Brazil and the U.S. with the objective of promoting research partnerships. Find out more about the 2014 FAPESP Week in California here

Carlos Fioravanti – Pesquisa FAPESP, 2014 Print Edition, Published in September 2013

An atmosphere richer in carbon dioxide (CO2)—as our atmosphere is expected to be in the coming decades as a consequence of continued emissions of gases resulting from the burning of forests and fossil fuels—could benefit the production of coffee, one of Brazil’s principal agricultural crops, and perhaps neutralize the loss in productivity caused by the increase in temperature and the intensification of droughts and floods, according to the initial results obtained from an experimental crop grown at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) facility in Jaguariúna.

For two years, coffee plants maintained in six octagons measuring 10 meters in diameter received doses of CO2 at a concentration of 550 parts per million (ppm), simulating the atmosphere as it might be at the end of this century, when atmospheric CO2 could be as high as 760 ppm. Coffee plants grown in six other octagons receive only the level of atmospheric CO2 prevailing today, a concentration of 440 ppm (see Pesquisa FAPESP Issue No. 198). Comparatively, the plants that received more CO2—controlled by means of sensors activated automatically according to the direction and speed of the wind—are taller and have longer branches, a thicker stem, and larger leaves.

The coffee plants that received more CO2 also produced more coffee cherries, according to Raquel Ghini, coordinator of the project entitled Effects of high atmospheric CO2 concentration in open top chambers and Free Air CO2 Enrichment (face) systems on photosynthesis and natural resistance mechanisms of coffee plants to coffee rust. According to Ghini, it is too soon to announce the final gain in productivity because it represents the results from only one harvest. Since coffee plants alternate years of high and low productivity, “we need at least two harvests to obtain more consistent values,” she says. The quality of the beans is being assessed by experts from the Campinas Institute of Agronomy.

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Article and photo courtesy of Revista Pesquisa FAPESP.

Coffee experts fear for Brazil harvest

Emiko Terazono – Financial Times, 09/07/2014

Divining the health of branches, floral buds and roots of coffee trees in Brazil has become key to millions of dollars being made or lost after a devastating drought hit the country at the start of the year. Recent discussions among roasters, analysts and hedge fund managers have focused on coffee agronomy, says Keith Flury, head of research at Volcafe, the coffee division of commodities traders ED & F Man.

“Given the unprecedented drought, industry and trade have had to increase knowledge about moisture deficits and the impacts on plants,” he says.

Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world, accounting for about 35 per cent of all output. In the past, the main weather problems for the country’s coffee growers have been frosts – few farmers and traders have had to deal with the consequences of heat and dryness.

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Factbox: Marina Silva’s policy proposals for Brazil

Anthony Boadle and Paul Simao – Reuters, 08/30/2014

Environmentalist Marina Silva unveiled her campaign platform for Brazil’s Oct. 5 presidential election on Friday, boosted by government data that showed the economy had fallen into a recession in the first half of this year.

Following are her main policy proposals aimed at restoring business confidence and investment in Brazil and putting the country on a path to sustainable growth:

ECONOMY: Return to the basic tripod of policies that gave Brazil financial stability a decade and a half ago: fiscal discipline, inflation targeting and a floating exchange rate, ending central bank intervention that has overvalued the real currency.

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Brazil sugar sector poised for ‘wave of mergers’

Agrimoney, 7/21/2014

A leading sugar banker cautioned over this year’s drought in Brazil’s Centre South region hitting cane crops in 2015-16 too as he forecast a wave of mergers among mills, their financial prospects further undermined by the crop downturn.

Alexandre Figliolino, director at Banco Itau BBA, said that the cane harvest in Brazil’s Centre South, responsible for 90% of the domestic crop, could fall to 550m tonnes this season, following the drought which hit the region early in the year.

The forecast, down from 596m tonnes in 2013-14, compares with an estimate of 560m tonnes from Datagro and 575m tonnes from Kingsman, although Canaplan has a forecast of 540m tonnes.

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Kenya: Brazil’s cultural similarities enhance trade

Bernard Ayieko – All Africa, 08/05/2013

The Second Brazil in Eastern Africa Expo which was held in Nairobi from July 24 to July 25 underscored the need to build business relations between investors of the two regions.

The theme of the expo, ‘Bridging the Missing Link’, indicated that the existing trade links could be strengthened. What better way to do this than to hold a multi-sectoral expo showcasing the evolution of Brazilian technology in the areas of agricultural machinery and implements, industrial equipment, renewable energy, building and consumer goods.

More than 60 Brazilian companies and institutions exhibited during the three-day event.

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Agriculture and food security: Brazil’s chance to assume leadership among the BRICS?

Oliver Stuenkel – Post-Western World, 06/09/2013

The stark differences between Brazil’s and India’s agricultural productivity and their differing positions during trade negotiations in the past years are an often used argument of why South-South cooperation will always be an elusive dream. And indeed, India has often been accused of being a nay-sayer in the realm of agriculture, even by its fellow emerging powers.

It may then come as a surprise that agriculture and food security are among the first topics that emerged when the BRIC grouping began to discuss ways to cooperate. In fact, during the first BRIC Leaders Summit in 2009 in Yekaterinburg, a separate declaration on food security was issued, underlining the importance of the matter.

In the document, the BRICs professed to be “committed to opposing protectionism, establishing a just and reasonable international trade regime for agricultural products, and giving farmers from developing countries incentives to engage in agricultural production.” The 2-page document argues that “the developed and developing countries should address the food security issue according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility”, a concept that would become a trademark of future BRICS declarations, particularly in the field climate change. Finally, the BRICs signaled their interest in cooperating by “sharing the best practices of operating successful public distribution programmes.”

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