Jun18_15-Brazils-Original-King-of-Soybeans-dies-at-June 18, 2015

Brazil's Original "King of Soybeans" dies at 84

Brazil's original "King of Soybeans", Olacyr de Moraes, died on Tuesday from pancreatic cancer at the age of 84. Moraes was an agricultural pioneer in the center-west region of Brazil, including the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, at a time when few people believed that the soils and climate of the region would support large scale grain and fiber production.

In order to insure success of his agricultural enterprises, he invested heavily in research and development of soybeans, corn, and cotton during the 1980's. He employed research agronomists and plant breeders to develop soybean and corn varieties adapted to the cerrado soils in the region. His efforts paid off and today the state of Mato Grosso is the largest soybean, corn, and cotton producing state in Brazil.

He purchased tens of thousands of hectares of land in remote regions of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul to produce soybeans, corn, and cotton. At the time, these areas were quite remote so his farming operations had to be self-contained communities with grain elevators, transportation facilities, worker housing, schools, stores, health services, and community services for the thousands of workers needed for the massive enterprises. At one point, he was the largest soybean producer in the world earning him the title as the "King of Soybeans".

In order to manage these large scale operations efficiently they were divided into smaller profit centers of 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) with each having a farm manager, an agronomist, and grain merchandizing specialists. I had the privilege of visiting both of his massive farming operations in the 1980's and they were impressive indeed. Moraes spent most of his effort on civil construction in and around Sao Paulo in southeastern Brazil, but agriculture was his passion and he would commute to his farms on the weekend in his private jet to direct the farming operations. Later in life, some of his largest farming operations were subdivided and sold to individual farmers as agricultural development progressed in the region.

During his lifetime, he owned more than 40 companies involved in civil construction, agriculture, and mineral exploration. At his death, his net worth was valued at more than US$ 1.2 billion.