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March 3, 2014

Limited Harvest Resumes in Mato Grosso, Roads in poor Condition

Dryer weather last week in Mato Grosso allowed farmers to return to the field and resume harvesting their 2013/14 soybean crop. The heavy rains earlier in the month resulted in losses across the state in the range of 5% to 30%. The Mato Grosso Institute of Agriculture Economics (Imea) estimates that nearly a half a million tons of soybeans have been lost due to sprouting in the pods and poor seed quality.

Imea estimates that the statewide yield will decline 1.8% to 53 sacks per hectare (3,180 kg/ha or 46 bu/ac). The total production in the state is estimated at 26.39 million tons which is down about a half a million tons from their previous estimate of 26.88 million tons.

When the opportunity presents itself, many farmers are being forced to harvest their soybeans at high moistures - 20% or higher. These soybeans must be dried before being put into the silos and it is resulting in long lines at the grain elevators because of the lack of drying capacity. The wet weather has also contributed to excessive truck traffic on already chaotic highways. The rain slows down the traffic and makes the potholes even more precarious.

Protestors associated with transportation companies blocked traffic on highway BR-364 and BR-163 in southern Mato Grosso over the weekend to draw attention to the poor condition of the highway. They demanded a meeting with government officials to voice their concerns and to request immediate remedies for the poor road conditions. The governor of the state has already petitioned the federal government for assistance to fix highways damaged by the heavy rains.

A local judge gave the state 30 days to start emergency repairs on state route MT-130 between Primavera do Leste and Paranatinga in southeastern Mato Grosso. The judge considered the poor condition of the highway a public health hazard due to the high number of accidents. He indicated that the state would be fined R$ 20,000 per day (approximately US$ 8,000) for each day the repair work is delayed.

Highway BR-163 in central Mato Grosso is reduced to one lane as repairs are started on the road after water from a nearby broken dam swamped 800 meters of the highway washing away about half the road. The washed out area is being filled in with large stone and boulders because of the lack of clay availability due to the saturated soil conditions.

A state of emergency has been declared in various municipalities due to washed out bridges. For many of these remote communities there is only one road in and out and if a bridge on the road is washed away, the community is isolated until repairs can be made.

The problems on the highways have driven up freight rates from eastern Mato Grosso to the Port of Paranagua to as high as R$ 400 a ton of soybeans or US$ 4.80 a bushel.