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September 12, 2011

Brazilian Farmers Increase Use of Certified Seeds

Brazilian farmers continue to increase the use of certified seeds as a way to improve the productivity of their existing land. According to the Brazilian Association of Seeds and Seedlings (Abrasem), of the 49.5 million hectares of grain planted in 2010/11, 23 million were planted with certified seeds. In 2010/11, 64% of the soybean acres and 87% of the corn acres were planted with certified seed. This is an increase from two years earlier when 61% of the soybeans and 83% of corn acres were planted with certified seed. The use of certified cotton seed has also increased from 44% in 2008/09 to 51% in 2010/11.

New environmental regulations in Brazil are making it much more difficult for farmers to open up new land as a way to increase their agricultural production. Therefore, many farmers are opting to invest in improved technology (seed, fertilizers, chemicals) as a way to increase their production.

Certified seeds are more expensive than pirated seed, but they pay for themselves many times over in the long run. Certified seeds are generally of higher quality, they germinate at a higher percentage and the plants are generally more vigorous. The use of pirated seeds can result in lower yields and it also increases the risk of introducing diseases, pests, and weeds into a farmer's field. Pirated seed may be cheaper to purchase initally, but their use can end up being much more costly in the long run.

As a way to combat the sale of pirated seed, the Ministry of Agriculture has set up a toll free hotline where farmers can call in and report any seed suspected of being pirated. The Ministry also has a program to combat the sale and use of counter banned agricultural chemicals as well.