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April 5, 2019

Program Launched to Improve the Productivity of Cerrado Soils

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

The Brazilian government, in conjunction with international agencies, continues to promote sustainable agricultural development in Brazil. The Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristine, launched a program earlier this week called the Rural Pasture Project. The goal of the project is to help develop sustainable agriculture in the cerrado areas of central Brazil while also helping to preserve the soil, water, vegetation, and the wildlife found in the cerrado biome.

The Rural Pasture Project is a joint effort between the Brazilian government, the Technical Cooperation Agency of the German government, the World Bank in Brazil (Bird) and the Brazilian Agriculture and Livestock Confederation (CNA). The Brazilian agencies cooperating in the project include: the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communications (MCTI), the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe), Embrapa, and the National Rural Society.

The Rural Pasture Project will focus on the renovation of degraded pastures in the cerrado areas of central Brazil. The US$ 21 million dollar project hopes to provide technical assistance to 4,000 producers in nine states of Brazil (Bahia, Goias, Maranhao, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Piaui, Sao Paulo, and Tocantins) and the Federal District. The initial phase of the project will select 53 regions that cover 12.5 million hectares (30.8 million acres).

The cerrado soils of central Brazil are naturally low in fertility, highly leached, have a low pH, easily eroded, and high in aluminum. Degraded pastures are pastures that are also low in fertility, highly erodible, and have a low carrying capacity. Many of these areas were put into pastures generations ago with very little effort over the years to improve their productivity.

This program hopes to change that by increasing the productivity and carrying capacity thus producing more agricultural products on existing areas and reducing the pressure to clear new land in order to increase agricultural production.

Tens of thousands of Brazilian farmers have moved into the cerrado areas of central Brazil over the last few decades converting vast areas of savanna vegetation into some of the most productive agriculture in Brazil. This program helps to continue increasing the productivity through sustainable development while at the same time conserving the soil, the fresh water, the native vegetation, reducing erosion, and promoting low carbon agriculture in the cerrado biome.

Small family farmers will be the focus of the program because these small operations generally do not the financial resources needed for the renovation of their degraded pastures or to conform to the new environmental regulations in Brazil. The overall goal is for sustainable agricultural development.