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May 5, 2015

State of Tocantins in NE Brazil is emerging Soybean Producer

The state of Tocantins in northeastern Brazil is not seen as a major soybean producing state in Brazil, but year-by-year, the farmers in the state continue to increase their soybean production. The state lies north of Goias, east of Mato Grosso, and west of Bahia, in other words, it is surrounded by major soybean producing states.

The state is composed primarily of cerrado vegetation and has traditionally been known for its cattle production, but that has been changing in recent years. There is a significant amount of degraded pastures that have already been converted to row crop production and degraded pastures will continue to be the primary source of new soybean acreage. Using degraded pastures for new row crop production adheres to environmental laws and the new Forestry Code. This is a big advantage for the state because the federal government continues to emphasize more intensive use of existing agricultural land instead of the clearing of new land to expand agricultural production.

During the 2014/15 growing season, farmers in the state planted 800,000 hectares of soybeans and agronomists in the state feel that could increase to 2 million hectares within 10 years. According to the state's Agriculture and Livestock Development Secretary, Genebaldo Queiroz, the state represents 2.6% of the grain acreage in Brazil and the state has a lot of advantages including: ample areas of degraded pastures that can be converted to row crop production, a favorable climate, good logistics, and the presence of the major grain companies and input suppliers. He feels that all 139 municipalities in the state have to potential to increase their grain production.

The state government has been big promoters of increased soybean and corn production. During the 2014/15 growing season, the state government made available R$ 948 million for production loans and equipment purchases. The Secretary of Agriculture in the state has also emphasized increased agricultural research in the state as a way to promote increased grain production.

The producer profile in the state is composed primarily of small and medium sized operations between 500 and 1,000 hectares (1,235 to 2,470 acres). In recent years, many farmers have been moving into the state from southern Brazil in search of cheaper land to expand their operations as well as agribusinesses eager to capitalize on the expanding production.