Future of Brazil's corn production is bright
Odacir Klein, a two-time Agriculture Secretary of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and former Agriculture minister of the country, is one of the most recognized leaders of corn growers in Brazil. He is the former president of the Brazilian Association of Corn Producers and coordinates the National Corn Summit, which is held annually at ExpoDireto, a farm show from Não Me Toque, Rio Grande do Sul, in March.
In an interview with Agriculture.com, Klein has denied that there are big difficulties for Brazilian agriculture. In his opinion, Brazilian corn growers only need to have the same income guarantees that American farmers have. Also, Klein believes that the South American giant has great perspectives to increase production of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel over the years. According to him, these new energies are not to compete with sales of grains for human and animal consumption. Klein's forecast is that the Brazilian corn crop this season will fall in a base of 5 to 7 million tons with rising costs adding to the issue of the grain value. According to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agriculture Economics, January's cost to grow corn in that state is US$ 626.94 per hectare.
Agriculture.com - How much growth does corn production still have in Brazil?
Odacir Klein - I cannot give you a specific number, but the Brazilian production can still grow a lot. We still have a lot of areas to grow and we have the degraded pasture areas that can be recovered. We have a constant increase of productivity. The technology applied is higher, and so goes the productivity. Right now, the corn production is just diminishing because of prices, which were a lot lower in 2013 compared to 2012. This year, production is likely to fall from 5 to 7 million tons. The second corn crop output might be falling also because of rising costs.
Agriculture.com - In the following years, which region of Brazil will see more growth of corn area? North, South or Center-west?
Klein - In terms of expressive volumes, indeed the center-west. The reason is that the center-west as a whole plants the second corn crop. In the South and Southeast, most of the regions don't plant two crops, there is just a decision of the farmer between growing soybean or corn depending on the market scenario, while the center-west has the option to plant both crops. One complements the other (crop).
Agriculture.com - Which are the main difficulties or challenges to grow corn in Brazil? Is it soil conditioning, pest control, chemical application requirements, seed selection, prices, precision ag practices, water, other?
Klein - I don't see major difficulties. We have a very good soil. The real main difficulty is not having a good guarantee of income. We have to follow the example of the USA. We thought that there would be great losses of income because of the recent drought there, but producers haven't had because they have good sources of restitution. Here we need a sort of insurance, similar to the U.S., to avoid those big losses of income as results of droughts and other problems. A better government insurance program should be developed.