April 11, 2011
New Conventional Soybean Varieties Released for Mato Grosso
A small but significant proportion of the farmers in the state of Mato Grosso continue to bet on the viability of conventional soybeans in spite of the fact that 65% of the soybeans grown in the state are genetically modified (Roundup Ready). Most of the farmers who grow conventional soybeans are located in the northern part of the state where it is much easier to keep the conventional soybeans separated from GM soybeans during shipping and exporting. The reason it is easier to keep the identity preserved is because many of the soybeans produced in the northern region of the state are exported out of only two ports located on the Amazon River, Itacoatiara and Santarem.
The facilities at Itacoatiara are operated by Amaggi and at Santarem, they are operated by Cargill. Both of these companies put restrictions on GM soybeans that are allowed to be shipped out of those ports. If restrictions are placed on the type of soybeans that are allowed at the port, then the companies can guarantee their European and Asian customers that their vessels do not contain any GM soybeans. Farmers in northern Mato Grosso who produce GM soybeans can export their soybeans via other ports located in eastern and southern Brazil.
The Mato Grosso Soybean and Corn Producers Association (Aprosoja) continues to encourage the research and development of conventional soybeans suited for the state. Some farmers in the state are reporting that conventional soybeans can produce R$ 100 more per hectare than GM soybeans due to their lower cost of production in addition to a premium of approximately R$ 2 per sack (about US$ 0.50 per bushel) that is currently being paid for conventional soybeans.
Embrapa and a private seed company called Agro Norte are both increasing their research efforts in the development of new conventional soybean varieties suited for northern Mato Grosso production. Later this week, Agro Norte will release a group of new conventional soybean varieties at a series of field days to be held across the northern part of the state. According to researchers from Agro Norte, the new conventional varieties are higher yielding than existing varieties, more tolerant to high levels of rainfall and droughts, and more tolerant to diseases such as soybean rust and pests such as nematodes.
The use of conventional soybean varieties also gives the farmers better ways to control the spread of weeds that have become resistant to Roundup herbicide. Roundup resistant weeds are becoming an increasing concern amongst Brazilian soybean farmers. If a farmer uses conventional soybeans, he can then alter his herbicide regime and control the Roundup resistant weeds.