Brazil Starts Push Towards Fertilizer Independence

    Brazilian crops

    Brazilian cropsWith the dust from the international economic crisis starting to settle
    down, the market admits it: the Brazilian government fired some
    accurate shots with the measures that it adopted in order to prevent
    the foreign situation from affecting the country too much.

    One such shot was the monetary policy, which was in fact a measure of the Central Bank, which cut down the interest rates. Another shot: reducing the tax burden on certain products.

    "There were strong reactions by the government, the monetary policy of the Central Bank and the fiscal policy, with the reduction of taxes. Those measures helped contain the reduction of sales (by companies), and they also helped the recovery of the economy," says the MCM consultant Antônio Madeira. The domestic market ended up being the salvation for many companies.

    The search for new reserves and the beginning of production at reserves in which research has already proven the existence of a strong potential for economically viable extraction of phosphorus and potash is one of the goals of the National Fertilizers Program (PNF).

    The PNF is part of the Agriculture and Livestock Plan, which has allocated 107.5 billion reais (US$ 53.6 billion) in funds to business and family farming, for the planting and selling of the 2009/2010 crop. The PNF is going to work to expand fertilizer manufacturing, and thus reduce the Brazilian dependence on imported raw materials.

    To give an idea of that dependence, it is worth noting that Brazil currently imports 70% of its fertilizer needs. Last year, for example, the country purchased approximately 13 billion reais (US$ 6.4 billion) of fertilizers (phosphorus, potash, and nitrogen-based) to meet its consumption needs, which total to 25 million tons per year.

    In order to expand domestic production, thus reducing dependence on international suppliers, the aim is to seek new reserves and, at the same time, start exploring reserves that have already been studied and are already known.

    With regard to phosphorus, for instance, exploration should start at the reserves of Santa Quitéria (state of Ceará), Patrocí­nio (Minas Gerais) and Anápolis (Goiás). According to the Ministry of Agriculture, production at the reserves of Tapira and Araxá, also in the state of Minas Gerais, is going to grow, resulting in a 2.5 million-ton expansion in the supply of phosphorus-based fertilizers.

    Research also indicates that the start of exploration at the reserves of Maecuru, in the state of Pará, and of Iperó, in São Paulo, should increase the supply by 1.5 million tons, resulting in a total supply of 4 million tons of phosphate products. The forecast is for that volume to be attained within five years.

    The Brazilian fertilizer market, according to Brazilian economists, ranks among the world's most attractive in terms of investment opportunities. In fact, Brazil is the fourth largest fertilizer market in the world, losing only to China, India and the United States.

    Last year, the country posted revenues of US$ 25 billion, a figure that has grown by 5% on average, per year, over the last 10 years.

    Prevent and win

    The mechanism for Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) should generate a turnover ranging from US$ 20 billion to US$ 40 billion per year for preventing emission of greenhouses gases caused by forest devastation. Brazil, which houses the largest rainforest in the planet, may receive approximately 40% of that sum.

    The estimate was made by one of the creators of the mechanism, the Italian researcher Andréa Cattaneo, of the United States-based Woods Hole research center.

    Latin women

    A report published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO), points to an increase in the number of women employed in Latin America: there are more than 100 million, the equivalent to 52% of the female population in the continent.

    The figure represents a significant increase over the 1990s, when the rate of women employed in the region was only 32%. However, it must not be ignored that a large part of those women (more than 50%) are in the informal labor market, often under conditions similar to those of slave labor. As for men, 78% are employed, 40.5% of them in informal jobs.

    Anba

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