Aug 07, 2023

Palm Oil Gains a Foothold in the Brazilian Amazon

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

Brazil is not known for its palm oil production, but that may change in the future. Currently, palm oil production in Brazil is small and limited to northern Brazil, but it shows signs of expanding. The BBF Group dominates palm oil production in northern Brazil through sustainable production and processing the oil for biofuel and consumer products.

Palm oil production is not mechanized so it generates jobs and income especially for family farmers. Under Brazilian law, palm oil may only be planted in areas of the Amazon that were degraded before 2007. It is not allowed to be planted in newly cleared areas. Therefore, palm oil plantations are helping to restore and reforest areas of the Amazon.

The BBF Group cultivates 75,000 hectares of palm on their own land and they provide incentives for 450 family farmers to plant palm through their Program for Family Agriculture in the state of Para by financing inputs, providing technical assistance, bank credit, and purchasing the fruit at competitive prices. Farmers who participated in the program sold 37,000 tons of palm to BBF in 2022 generating R$ 30 million.

BBF uses palm oil in its 25 thermoelectric plants to generate electricity for 140,000 customers in isolated areas of the Amazon.

As part of its push for sustainability, BBF announced plans to build a new facility called BBF BioTech to process 3,000 tons of palm in the state of Rondonia into renewable consumer products called AmazonBio Care. These products will substitute palm oil for petrochemicals in such things as soaps, shampoos, hydrating creams, and sunscreen. These products will be marketed as sustainable products from the Amazon.

The advantage of palm oil production for family farmers in the Amazon region is that it can be grown on small plots of land and it does not need mechanization. In addition to being a valuable source of additional income for farmers, it can also help to restore degraded areas.