Brazil has increased its agricultural exports by 400pc in the past 10 years.
It was just one of the stunning statistics outlined at the ASA conference by Dr Mauricio Lopes, executive director of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation.
Delegates heard how, in the space of the less than four decades, Brazil has morphed from being a poorly developed agricultural producer of coffee and sugar to being the world's largest exporter of beef, soya beans, poultry and sugar and will shortly become the world's biggest exporter of ethanol and biodiesel.
Dr Lopes outlined how a strong focus on research and development had resulted in yield increases of 60pc to 200pc in recent decades. Brazilian agricultural output reached almost €400bn last year.
He said further increases of up to 30pc in beef, soya beans and poultry output were targeted by 2020.
This compares to relatively static output projections for both the EU and the US.
Countering views that expansion in Brazil had been at the expense of virgin rainforest, Dr Lopez claimed that at least 80pc of the rainforest was now ring-fenced from any agricultural development. He added that over 30m hectares of crops were now grown on a no-till system to minimise soil compaction and erosion.
Dr Lopez also highlighted the scale of the agricultural sector in Brazil. The national farm research organisation employs more than 2,000 scientists in more than 40 research centres. In addition, the country has 70 agricultural universities and 100 agricultural technical high schools.
- Darragh McCullough
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