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March 10, 2016

Irrigated Acreage in Brazil Could Expand 5-7 Times Current Level

Brazil has a tropical or sub-tropical climate and the largest river system in the world, so most people don't realize that many parts of Brazil actually are in the midst of a water shortage. Most of the current water shortages are in southeastern Brazil where the majority of the population is located. In central Brazil, which is the agricultural heartland of the country, a distinct rainy season and dry season leads to annual shortages of water needed for crop growth.

The Coordinator for Irrigation in the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Demetrios Christofidis, feels there are ample opportunities to increase the amount of irrigated cropland in Brazil. He made his comments on Tuesday, March 8 at a special commission of the Brazilian Congress discussing water shortages in Brazil and potential remedies. Currently, Brazil has approximately 6.5 million hectares of irrigated crop land and he feels that could be expanded to 30 to 45 million hectares, or 5-7 times the current amount of irrigated crops.

The Brazilian National Water Agency (ANA) is working with the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in developing a Water Atlas for Brazil detailing the various water resources available in the country. The atlas will provide a guide for policy makers when deciding legislation concerning irrigation.

The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture is attacking the current water shortages on three fronts. The main avenue of attract is to improve existing irrigation systems by installing demonstration plots utilizing the latest technology. Second, they want to improve the infrastructure connected with irrigation including energy delivery and roads. Lastly, they are identifying additional areas where irrigation is plausible.