Feb 15, 2021

New Logistical Problems for Grain Trucks in Northern Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Once the paving of Highway BR-163 in northern Brazil was completed in late 2019, everyone assumed that the traffic jams of thousands of grain trucks heading north out of Mato Grosso to ports on the Amazon River was a thing of the past. That does not appear to be quite the case.

Late last week, there were approximately 5,000 trucks parked along the side of Highway BR-230 waiting to get into the Port of Miritituba on the Tapajos River. All those trucks carrying soybeans from Mato Grosso came from Highway BR-163, which can handle a much greater flux of trucks since the paving has been completed. Highway BR-230 is a federal highway except for the last seven kilometers before the port which is unpaved and that is the stretch parked full of trucks.

The port can unload an average of about 500 trucks per day, but the number of trucks arriving at the port exceeds the port's capacity. This sort of problem was anticipated once the early soybean planting had been delayed by dry weather resulting in a very concentrated planting of the soybeans. Wet weather is now slowing the start of the harvesting, so the harvest will be concentrated into a much shorter time frame as well.

The Port of Miritituba is not the only logistical problem for trucks in Mato Grosso. There is also traffic problems on Highway BR-158 which runs north and south along the eastern side of the state of Mato Grosso. In northeastern Mato Grosso, there is a 50 kilometer section of Highway BR-158 that is unpaved and is now virtually impassable due to torrential rains. Local officials are attempting to fix the problem, but as long as the heavy rains persist, it will continue to be an ongoing problem.

Problems at the Port of Miritituba is an inconvenience for the thousands of truck drivers parked along the side of the highway, but it is not impacting operations at the port where barges are being loaded with soybeans destined for export facilities along the Amazon River.

The soybean harvest in Mato Grosso will be very concentrated this year and as a result, there are expected to be reports of long lines of trucks waiting to unload at grain elevators and cooperatives throughout the state.