Jul 31, 2023

Grain Production in NE Brazil to Increase 37% in Ten Years

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

Northeastern Brazil has been on the expanding agriculture frontier for a number of years and its importance in Brazilian agriculture continues to increase.

The area known as Matopiba, which encompasses the states of Maranhao (33%), Tocantins (38%), Piaui (11%), and Bahia (18%) is expected to increase grain production by 37% over the next ten years to 48 million tons with 11 million hectares (27.1 million acres) of grain production in 2032/33. Most of the increase will be due to increased productivity.

These estimates are from the recently released study "Agribusiness Projections - Brazil 2022/23 to 2032/33 from the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture in conjunction with Embrapa. Over the past ten years, the grain production in Matopiba increased 92% from 18 million tons in 2013/14 to 35 million in 2022/23. Cerrado is the major biome encompassing 91% of the region followed by Amazon at 7% and Caatinga at 1.6%.

Agriculture in northeastern Brazil has traditionally been characterized by small family farmers who have small parcels of land and limited livestock operations. In recent years though, large commercial operations have been drawn to the region due to cheap land and proximity to export facilities that lower the cost of transportation.

The small family farmers in northeastern Brazil concentrate their efforts on the cultivation of corn, dry beans, manioc, fruit, vegetables, tobacco, coffee, flowers, and small livestock operations of goats, hogs, poultry, and dairy. Family farmers account for 82% of the horticultural operations in the region and 66% of the flower production.

Small family farmers have less participation in the production of soybeans, dry beans, corn, and rice which requires more mechanization. Family farmers produce 9% of the soybeans in the region, 12% of the dry beans, and 12% of the corn.

Commercial farming operation in Matopiba focus their efforts on the cultivation of soybeans, corn, cotton, and rice. In recent years, commercial grain yields in Matopiba have been some of the highest in Brazil. The growing season is not as long in Matopiba as in other parts of Brazil due to the later arrival of the summer rains. To compensate for that though is the lower cost of land and shorter transportation to nearby export facilities.

A lack of infrastructure in the region such as roads and grain storage facilities continue to be a challenge.