Brazil Study Tour Blog

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November 24, 2008

Fruit trees an important food source

Fruit Trees in Brazil

By Gary Wyatt, Jeff Coulter, and Suzanne Driessen

There are many edible fruit trees and shrubs in Brazil, which serve as a valuable food and income resource in small gardens to large plantations. Below is a review of a few of the fruit and food producing plants we saw and ate on our tour of southern Brazil.

Orange: The 9,000 acre orange plantation we visited was selling all of their oranges to a juice processor. This plantation had over 1.5 million trees, and is the second largest orange plantation in the world. The orange tree can begin producing at 3 years of age and continue to produce for up to 20 years. The plantation had 200 full time employees and hires up to 4,000 workers to help hand harvest the oranges during November and December. This plantation uses integrated pest management practices to identify insect and disease thresholds which indicate proper and timely control measures. Three varieties of orange trees are present on this plantation, as suggested by the juice processor. Bees are needed for pollination during August and September, so independent bee keepers bring their bee hives into the plantation during this time. Both businesses benefit from each other. In addition, windbreaks separate fields and provide a natural barrier to reduce the spread of disease and insect infestations. Brazil November 2008 147.JPG

Banana: Bananas are grown in many parts of Brazil. Bananas are a very common food served in many ways throughout the day. They are not just for breakfast. For example, we had fried, caramel bananas for dessert at lunch and dinner. Bananas grow in bunches, with 60 to 80 bananas per bunch. They are picked year round in large plantations. The main insect which affects bananas is the fruit fly.

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Mango: There is a large mango export market in Brazil. They pick the fruit green, export it, and ripen it with ethylene gas at the destination. Mangos are slightly bigger than a softball and are usually yellow inside. Their taste resembles ripe peaches. There are two major types of mango: Tomi (commercially grown) and Coquinho (smaller).
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Jaca: One day, our interpreter stopped the bus at a roadside stand. He brought back a strange looking, large football shaped fruit called Jaca. After cutting it he encouraged us to eat the yellow part around the large seeds. It had a rubbery citrus taste. It is not commercially grown but it is eaten and found in local markets.
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Jaboticaba: This is called the blackberry tree. The large quarter sized berries are attached to the tree limbs and trunk, something that is not common in the U.S. Berries have 1 to 2 seeds and are used for jams, liquors, and fresh fruit. It is not commercially grown.
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Acerola: This is a red berry that grows from a shrub. One berry contains as much vitamin C as 4 oranges. The berries are harvested and made into frozen concentrate. We noticed at the grocery store that a Tic Tac breath mint flavor was made from acerola.

Coconut: Plantations are usually found in the warm tropical region with sandy soils. Green coconuts are harvested for coconut water. It was offered at one of the restaurants as a supplemental drink at lunch. One tree bears up to 100 fruits that are harvested once each year.

Papaya: Papaya fruit was served for breakfast in almost all of our hotels. It was sliced and quartered like melon slices with its seeds on top. It is also served in a fruit syrup mix with other fruits.

Fig: Figs are usually grown in northern Brazil but were served as dessert in many restaurants. Figs are grown on bushy trees that are 30 to 50 feet wide. Figs are usually not eaten raw, and they are served in sweet syrup. Their seeds are smaller than those of strawberries.

Grapes: Grapes are grown to produce wine, in many parts of Brazil.

Although not a fruit, Cassava is a very important food source in Brazil. Cassava is a tuberous root vegetable like plant resembling horse radish with a brown skin and white inside. It is largely grown for flour, but it is also fried like French fries. However, it is cooked before it is fried. There are several tubers per plant. Brazil November 2008 246.JPG

A Flordia nursery has photos and descriptions of the tropical fruit we saw and tasted in Brazil on their website: Some of these fruits can be grown in Flordia.

November 21, 2008

Agroforestry and Trees

Agroforestry and Trees in Brazil

By Gary Wyatt, Jeff Coulter and Suzanne Driessen

The semi-tropical and tropical climate in Brazil offers an array of beneficial species of trees and shrubs which can be used for food, fiber, paper, wood products, windbreaks and aesthetic value. The soil in Brazil is red in color, and varies considerably in soil texture. In the state of Sao Paulo, soils were often composed of 60% sand, but in the state of Panara the soils are predominantly clay loam. Soils in Brazil are of volcanic origin and developed under forest. This, along with the warm annual temperatures and high rainfall contribute to the low organic matter levels in these soils. Annual rainfall in the southern region of Brazil is approximately 40 to 50 inches annually. Producers in Brazil can grow crops in both the winter and summer seasons. There is also considerable crop diversity, as it is common to see soybean, banana, rubber, and orange plantations adjacent to each other.

Agroforestry is common in much of southern Brazil. The BMV Agro-Industrial Cooperative ( we visited uses wood from the eucalyptus tree as a fuel for drying harvested corn to grain moisture levels that are suitable for storage. Specifically they use approximately 1 cubic meter of wood to dry 500 bushels of corn from 20% to 14% moisture. Their cost is $18 per cubic meter. Other sources of fuel are too expensive, and they do not have the option of using propane because they lack the infrastructure for propane transport and storage. The eucalyptus tree is a fast growing tree which was introduced from Australia and can be harvestable in 5 years. In addition to its use as a fuel source, it is also used for fiber, paper, and various other products.

Crown of thorns, a floral house plant in Minnesota, is grown as a vegetative fence and windbreak in Brazil. It is commonly found along property boundaries and grows in a thick, dense, and thorny thicket. However, it can be pruned as a hedge, and it blooms most of the year, thereby adding beauty to the landscape.

We also visited the second largest orange plantation in the world, which was 9,000 acres. In this plantation, windbreaks of trees were used as a physical barrier between orange fields to help reduce or minimize the movement of insect infestations.

Another visit was to a rubber tree plantation with over 200,000 rubber trees. This plantation not only increased diversity to the landscape, but it also increased rural income. The trees can begin production as early as 8 years of age. Tiny diagonal slits are made and the bark is removed each week to produce the white rubber (latex) which is collected in a container attached to the tree.

Overall, the wide range of diversity in tree species and Agroforestry in Brazil contribute to a sustainable multifunctional landscape, where trees have economic, social, aesthetic, and environmental impacts.

November 19, 2008

It's time to say farewell

We are having breakfast at the hotel in Sao Paulo before we head to the airport and our trip home. It has been a wonderful experience for all of us in the group. We have learned so much about Brazilian agriculture but only scratched the surface on all Brazil offers, as we were always within about 300 miles of Sao Paulo. I think everyone in the group has a deeper appreciation for the agriculture industry in Brazil and realize the people here are simply trying to make a living for their family just as is the case in the U.S. "People are people" as stated by Betsy. We will be adding more to this blog when we return so stay tuned.

November 16, 2008

Sampling Sugar Cane

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Dairy Farm visit - Bisek, Pepin, Martens, Broadwater

On Sunday, Nov 16 on a very warm afternoon (high 80's and humid), the tour group went to a dairy farm near Londrina. The host was Vilson Mouro of the Monte Alegre Farm. Dairy farming in the area consists for herds from 40 cows to 400 cows. There are 3 organic herds in the area.
Mr. Mouro also is a veterinarian and owns a number of veterinary supply stores in the area. The dairy consists of 80 crossbred cows. The breeds he uses includes Holstein, Gir, Girolonda. The Gir and Girolonda breeds are used for the tropical climate and are better for long distance grazing. The Holstein is included for milk production. Holsteins are milked for 7-8 months and the other breeds for 5 months. The farm is located in an area that has long, steep slopes and terraces. The pasture grass is a Brazilian specie that works very well for livestock production. He harvests corn silage twice per year on 40 hectares. The harvest is in January and June. The silage is stored in a concrete bunker (4.5 meters wide x 50 meters long x 3 meters high). Corn silage yield is 45metric tons per hectare. The harvester is a Pecus 9004 model single row, harvesting 2 hectares per day. However, he has made the decision this takes too loing and next year will be hiring a custom operator. When we looked at the silage in storage we found it very well packed and fermented. Of interest was the fact they move the silage by hand from the bunker to the barn to feed the herd during milking using 80 kilogram tubs.
Feeding -- Along with the silage and pasture, they use a custom mix delivered to the farm consisting of ground corn, ground wheat and macro and micro elements (VTM). Soybean meal is top dressed a 1/2 kilogram/cow/day. The mix is fed at 3 kilogram/head/day. The silage is fed at 17 kilograms/head/day in tiled mangers. One observation was how clean the mangers were with no evidence of any residue or buildup. The feed is placed in the manger just before the cows enter the barn for milking.
Milking -- The milking facility is a barn that resembles a double 40 flat barn parlor with pipe line using 4 units. The barn had open sides all around. It takes rougly 1 hr 40 minutes to milk with 3-4 people. They milk at 4am and 2 pm which was indicated as being very typical for dairy producers in the area. The calves were in a separate pen in the same barn. There was no bedding on the cement floor. Production was 1500 litres/day (about 20 liters/cow) from the herd plus what was fed to the calves. The regulations for keeping the milking facility clean is becoming more strict. Therefore, he plans to build a double 8 milking parlor next year. The present barn will be used as a feeding area. He plans to pay for the parlor by increasing production to 2000 litres/day without adding cows and by reducting labor by 2 FTEs. In watching the milking process, the milkers tie the the back legs with nylon rope. Prep for milking consists of wiping the teats with a dry paper towel massaging the teat for milk letdown. Some crossbred cows do not allow milk letdown easily so a calf is lead in to the side of the cow to allow it to suck the teats for a few seconds to stimulate letdown. The state milk inspector visits the farm once per month.
Milk Pick Up -- every other day. The bulk tank was deLaval. Milk goes to a milk plant cooperative where it is processed for fluid milk. (comment: in visiting a nearby supermarket we found most fluid milk was packaged as UHT). The price he receives for his milk is $0.27/litre ($12.00 cwt in U.S).
Breeding -- 80% of the herd is AI bred. Heifers calve a 24 months. All animals calve near the barn in a calving paddock. He does his own breeding.
Health care -- Because he is a veterinarian he provides 99% of the health care for the herd. As best we understand, he treats mastitis very little. Every load of milk is sampled and tested for SCC. He does get a premium for quality milk. We were unable to determine his exact SCC count. He said, "less is best and it is higher in the summer rainy season."
We asked him how he learns about new techniques, practices and technologies. He indicated he attends many meetings sponsored by agri-business. He gets together with other dairy producers and travel within Brazil to gain knowledge. He also acknowledged he gets a lot of information from the University.
The Family -- He lives in town and the home on the farm is a weekend home. We had the opportunity to meet his mother and father, twin sisters and two sons. They provided some wonderful refreshments for us on this hot afternoon. We took a group photo which we felt they greatly appreciated. We will send them a copy. They were very gracious hosts. Our tour guide interpreted all conversations as they were not versed in English and we in Portugese.
Vilson invited us to come back to attend the largest farm show in South America, held in Londrina April 1-14, 2009. Equipment manufacturers from all around exhibits, there will be 164 breeds of cattle. They expect 1 million people to attend. Vilson is planning to come to the U.S., possibly MN, in Feb or March, 2009.

Ethanol 2008 - Wayne Schoper

Brazilian Ethanol Production
Wayne Schoper
Brown/Nicollet Extension Educator

The story of agriculture in this country begins before the discovery of Brazil by the Portuguese. Indigenous peoples had been conducting agricultural practices for untold generations previous to the arrival of the Europeans in the year 1500. Soon after their arrival, the Portuguese introduced sugar cane and started the first sugar cane processing mill in 1526. Since then Brazil has undergone many changes in the past 500 years with one constant through the years – the production of sugar cane. Queioz University in the city of Piracicaba located just south of the city of Sao Paulo in southern Brazil is one of the premier agricultural institutes in Brazil. During a recent visit, I had the opportunity to listen to some of the staff at the university discuss what some of the current and future issues that are facing the sugar cane industry in Brazil. This institute conducts much of the current research regarding sugar cane production to include variety selection and development, nutrient management, and the final processing of the plant into sugar and ethanol. The new varieties need to produce more sucrose and be more disease resistant. Brazil is currently undergoing a major expansion from 18 million acres of sugar cane production in 2008 to 40 million acres by 2020. Some of this increased production will go into sugar, but the majority will go into expansion of the ethanol industry. Currently, about 2/3 of the sugar cane acreage goes into ethanol production. This new production will increase overall production from 22.5 billion liters to 65.3 liters by 2020. This will also mean that Brazil will be the world leader in the production and export of ethanol. The country has the excellent climate and growing conditions, plenty of available land and labor, and the infrastructure to load it on ships and transport it around the world. Most of Brazil’s sugar cane production is located in the south-central part of the country in and around Sao Paulo state. There is some additional production located in the northeastern state of Bahia. The key to all of this is that the sugar cane must be grown within 10 miles of one of the 357 sugar cane processing plants located in the country. Much of the future processing will be loaded out of southern ports and shipped all over the world. Brazil’s true advantage over other agriculture production areas of the world is their abundant available land base. The land mass of Brazil exceeds that of the continental United States. We have heard mush about the production of corn and soybeans and what effect this has on world markets. Soybean production has exploded during the past 10 years all over Brazil and has pushed them to the forefront of world production. But the real story of Brazilian agriculture and world energy production is the ethanol boom. Currently, only 22% of Brazilian arable land is under cultivation. Many millions of acres are available to develop for crop production. This undeveloped land is currently held as pasture land. Much of this land has a very low pH which makes it too acidic for the kind of corn and soybean production that we see in the U.S. It would require major inputs of soil amendments in the form of lime and other fertilizers to bring this land to a productive state. While sugar cane will also need major amounts of fertilizer to produce, the cane will grow well on soils that are not ideal for corn and soy bean production.

So what is the future of sugar cane ethanol production in Brazil? One ton of sugar cane will produce enough ethanol to equal 1.25 barrels of oil. This renewable energy resource has allowed Brazil to be energy independent. 94% of Brazilian cars are flex fuel vehicles which allows them to burn anything from E-20 to 100% ethanol. This freedom from dependence on foreign oil supplies will continue to serve Brazil well into the future.

Tesmer, Schoper and Dolan - The rest of the story

There has been a lot of feedback on what we have seen during our week in Brazil. We have visited with Brazilian colleagues at Luiz de Queiroz College in Piracicaba. This visit turned out to be an unexpected pleasure as we discovered that several of the staff that we had talked to had Minnesota connections. Several of our Brazilian colleagues mentioned the name "Ed Shue" Ed was a University of Minnesota economiist who had worked with these individuals when they had the opportunity to come to Minnesota and spend some time teaching and learning. Professor Ana Lucia Kassouf talked to us about the Brazilian government's efforts to study and assist the large portion of the population living in poverty. Education will play a major role here as here as many adults have only a few years of limited education. The other presenters discussed various topics from entomology to economics to ethanol. On Saturday, we visited a farmer who was also invovlved with a business that purchased and re-sold grain. A highlight of the afternoon was going to one of his farm fields and observing soybean planting. He had the most up to date equipment and answered many questions that we all had. In contrast, we did a farm visit on Sunday where the farmer had a very efficient and probably a profitable farm that was outfitted with older equipment and older technology.

A visit to the Elevator & Farm - Bill Craig

Yesterday our group toured a Brazilian grain elevator and grain farm in the community of Itambaraca, Pr Br. We were welcomed by Antonio Malutta, one of four owners of BMV, a grain elevator and farm corporation. BMV was formed following the bankruptcy of the local cooperative grain elevator. The four owners partnered with another business that sells ag chemicals. By partnering, the owners of the elevator receives a lower cost for the ag chemicals and the owner of the ag chemical business gets exposure to farmers coming into the elevator, creating another marketing opportunity. I didn’t ask why the cooperative failed, but I would guess it happened during one of Brazil’s financial meltdowns the happened when their inflation rate was extremely high (triple digit) and their currency was devalued. That is not the case today, one could argue that Brazil is in better financial condition than the U.S. and many other countries.

The BMV corporation consists of the elevator with 520,000 bushels of grain storage and around 5,000 acres of crops. Crops grown by the BMV partners are Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Sugarcane. They buy Corn, Soybeans and Wheat from neighbors as well. Yields in the area range from; corn 100 -150 bu/a, Soybeans 50-60 bushels, and from 60-70 bushe3ls per acre of Wheat. They dry grain with wood primarily from the Eucalyptus tree. Natural gas is very high and wood costs $18.00 per cubic meter. I was told that it costs about 10 percent to dry corn with wood down from 23 % moisture to 13% moisture. Included in the costs are the two men each working twelve hour shifts to keep wood in the firebox.

Grain produced and purchased is marketed by a brother to one of the owners. He also works with production and financial records and the banker. To manage price risk, the grain is hedged on the CBOT through a broker. Sometimes BMV works with other elevators such as Bunge, Cargill or others to meet mutual goals. Crop insurance is available, but many farmers don’t buy it I was told because without a government subsidy, it is too expensive.

Last year 20% of Brazil’s corn crop was exported abroad. Of that amount about 30% went to China. Additional local markets are being developed. One is a feed mill the Cargill owns that supplies producers with chicken feed. Grain for export from the area we visited travels 250 miles East to a port on the Atlantic Ocean. From there it will travel to the EU, Japan, Africa, and India.

We then rode our bus out to the farm. A neighbor who Antonio says is one of the best farmers in the country, because he is a fanatic about details, was planting zero-til soybeans into wheat stubble. He was using a 165 hp New Holland tractor pulling a new John Deere zero-till Drill. Planting conditions were perfect for drilling into the red clay soils where there was adequate moisture for quick emergence. The clay soils there are about 4 to 5 percent organic matter and a pH of 6.2 to 7. The fields are slightly rolling providing very good soil drainage conditions. As I watched the planting taking place I thought to myself, boy wouldn’t it be fun to farm down here!
One of the questions I wanted to hear answered was this; “What are the top 3 problems facing Brazilian Farmers today?? The answer I received was,
1. The market volatility. The fear of being on the wrong side as the market moves.
2. Input costs have exploded, particularly for fertilizer, fuel , equipment, repair parts, and land.
3. Not enough political support from the government. “I don’t believe our government supports our farmers the way the United States and the European Union governments do theirs.?

In conclusion, the farmland around Itambaraca is some of the best quality and most productive in the world. Brazil is just beginning to utilize genetically modified hybrids on farms. I would expect their good yields to become much better over the next three to five years. Perhaps average corn yields will increase by 50 bushels per acre. Benefits of technology should result in higher yields and profits.

To Change or not to change

For me this trip has been a return to a country I have spent 2 years of my life working in. What has changed and what has not. Brazil is a vast country with much farm land and a climate to support an intense agricultural program. My Portuguese is getting a passing grade although at times there are words that have esacaped me.
So what is the same? The people are still friendly warm and open. 35 years ago I was somewhat lost in Sao Paulo City and when I asked one person for help within a few minutes I had a real committee on my hands and easily found my way. I have a sense their spirit is still that and more " agente boa" good people right nto the core.
What has changed? Brazil is developed in many ways. It seems as thouh many acres produce 2 crops a year. They are a major player in feeding the world. They are a world leader in energy independence. Cars here are flex fuel and can run on any mix of gas or ethanol. They are the Minnesota in the world in alternative agriculture. They are in this together with us and can be a great asset in moving the world into renewable fuel and energy independence.
When I worked in Brazil I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. I worked in Extension in Agriculture and Economic Development. Pretty much the same job description as I have now.
I worked with farms in the state of Ceara and the State of Maranhao. We will not get there on this trip. From what people say however they have progressed but stiil have a ways to go. I did do training in Sao Paulo and we did go to Matao where I was stationed for 3 months. The family I stayed with had moved but people there from the Marchesan Company helped me located where they had moved to and we have tried to find them. Anderson our tour guide has done the rest in nlocating them on ORKUT so we may find out all the news yet.
The other thing that has not changed is the capacity of Extension staff. All the relationships we have started with the people here and opportunities that happen with an open spirit can only help in a world that seems as if it will need to be rebuilt from the economic lows we see going down now throughout thye world.
In a global world there must be global outreach of a friendly hand. What follows next is up to all of us.

Diverse People and Land by Nathan Winter

Over the past 5 days we have had the great opportunity to travel around the country of Brazil. Fortunately, we will have a few more days to learn. We have seen a lot, but we have only seen a portion of this country and their people. One thing for sure is that we have seen a country that is very diverse in their people and their land.

The people of this country have a lot of similarities of those in the US. Both countries have a native population. We have seen many immigrants over the last 200 plus years in the United States. Brazil also had many people settle within their borders as well. Many of these groups were also from Europe and Asia and they still hold true to their past. You can find these groups living together in similar areas. You can look around and see people that look very similar to people in Minnesota, but they do not have a Minnesota accent. We have found the people we have worked with to be very friendly, which would be very similar to Minnesota. The people of Brazil also know a lot more about us then we know about them. They watch television shows from our country like CNN and are concerned about our trade policies. How many of us really know a lot about our own country, let alone others.

The other great diversity of their country is the land. We know of the huge flat cropland in the Matto Grosso region of the country. All you can see is fields for miles and miles. We are not even traveling to that region, but we have seen areas around Sao Paulo and Londrina that have rolling hills with a large variety of crops like sugarcane, soybeans, corn, cassava, castor bean, wheat, coffee, oranges, rubber trees, etc. They also have huge terraced and rolling pastures where their livestock graze. This area contains a lot of the potential cropland area of their country. What a vast country and a great opportunity to learn more about one of the large agricultural export countries.

November 14, 2008

Oranges, Mangos & Marchesan

We started today with a very thorough tour of the Marchesan Factory, then went on a tour of an orange grove. This sounds very quaint at first - but wait untll I describe a little bit more. We had an all access pass through the factory - able to see all of the fabrication, designing and assembly of the machines being produced. Afterwards, our gracious hosts took us to an area orange grove.

This entire orange farm consists of 9,000 acres with over 1.5 million orange trees! An absolutely fabulous site to see. It´s not everyday taht a farm manager grabs a mango from a tree, peels it and offers it to you. Also on the property they grow sugar cane and have a grove of 220,000 rubber trees. I had never seen a rubber tree before - so that was an experience. If I heard correctly, these rubber trees can be productive for more than 50 years.

We`ll have to wait and see what`s on the agenda tomorrow.

Visit to University of Sao Paulo Agricultural School

Our trip has been action packed so far! Yesterday (Thurs) was probably the most intense yet. We spent the day at the best agricultural university in the country - and boy did they roll out the carpet for us! I think the best part is learning about things you didn~t expect - there is a lot! For example - we had a session with a professor you is studying the economic situation as it relates to education for children. She presented fabulous data showing the differences in education performance after the institution of a work welfare type of program. It gave me a much better perspective of the country and its people as a whole.

Our agricultural stops have been great too! We have been to an Agco (Valtra) manufacturing plant, our bus took us u]into the middle of a sugar cane feild that was being harvested, we got to taste sugar cane right out of the feild, we visited the animal science dept at the university, and to top it all off they are feeding us like royalty!

It is also amazing the connections you make with others on the trip. As we are together I have learned alot about my colleagues - some that I knew well before, and others that I know more about now! Also, many people in the group have relationships with the companies and faculty that we are meeting here.

Just goes to show that the world is more connected than we think! I look forward to writing again soon.

November 13, 2008

Ethanol, Sugar Cane, and Brazil - by Brad Carlson

Despite being a soil scientist, it is hardly possible to work in agriculture in Minnesota and not know quite a bit about ethanol. Meeting with the people involved in the industry here has been quite enlightening. I am not sure whether we have gotten complete information due primarily to language translation, but the picture is quite clear and interesting. They view ethanol as a very large opportunity for their economy and I couldn’t agree with them more.

When we met with UNICA, the trade council for the sugar industry, they did not really seem threatened or concerned about either the current state of the world economy, or what the US had planned with respect to ethanol policy. They, more or less, seemed to be grateful to us for raising ethanol to a level of worldwide public visibility. Mr. Swarcz (Schwartz) stated that in the future Brazil and the US would be the drivers in worldwide ethanol production and everyone else would be on the sidelines watching. I think that this is correct. The industry takes a long range view of the situation, yet they did present us with some figures regarding why their system made more sense to them. They produce about 5x more ethanol per hectare using sugar cane than we do. What they fail to represent is that at this rate they have nothing left, it was all used in the process of generating ethanol or biomass burning energy. We have DDGs left, which are a great feedstuff for livestock and they do not mention this anywhere. In addition, since our system uses corn which stores indefinitely and can easily be transported long distances we have a logistical advantage they can only dream of. They do, probably have a system that produces more energy per acre than we do, but the problem with cane is that it must be processed the same day that it is harvested or it degrades rapidly and becomes worthless. Because of this they only move it about 20 miles at the most before extruding the juice. I am not going to go into a discussion regarding environmental issues, because I am having a hard time assessing just what the environmental impact is down here. I don’t think that it is particularly severe, but there are some down sides (just as corn can have at home).

The producers are not able to focus on a long term approach to the industry, as they are worried about sugar prices that will only bring them half way to break even this year. They seem a little miffed with respect to US farm policy and said that we should be lifting trade restrictions that prevent them from exporting to the US. What they fail to understand is that they might not have much of a market anywhere were it not for those policies that took ethanol to the forefront of our energy policy in America. Brazil has a very protectionist system, and they put very stiff tariffs on imports. They do not have these same restrictions on agricultural products, but their ability to produce vastly exceeds their domestic needs, making import of anything but real niche products unlikely. I don’t tend to doubt that if they were willing to open the doors of free trade of manufactured goods we might allow them into our ethanol markets, but for now it seems likely that things won’t change much on either side.

University of Sao Paulo ESALQ

Welcome to the Brazil Weblog!

Today we were at the premier educational instistution for agriculture at the University of Sao Paulo (ESALQ). This institution does a lot of the agricultural instruction for undergraduate and graduate education. We had professors talk in the areas of agronomy, livestock, engineering, economics, social and economic research, and integrated pest management. Many of the professors from their institution have close ties with the University of Minnesota and they were very greatful to meet and talk about their work. One of the things that was intriguing to me was how closely tied their agricultural and economic economies are to the US. Currently, they are assessing their economic situation with sugar and ethanol. Right now their economy is quite delicate like the U.S.

Nathan Winter

Learning the math

Hi, I made it safely. Things are fine.
We are 4 hours ahead of Minnesota. So it is 8 27 am now. What time is it there. The punctuation keys are different so it is not my bad grammar that leaves out the question mark.
We checked into our room and the thermostat said 18 degrees. Should we leave it set for that or should we change it to get a good night sleep and to make sure the toothpaste is not frozen in the morning.
If it is 23 degrees should I wear a winter coat today or skip a jacket altogether.
I traded 100 dollars for 200 Reals. I spend 30 Reals on supper last night. Is that good for a Perkins type meal.
I hope this figures out to be a good day for you. I think it will here.


Greetings from Piricicaba, Sao Paulo Brazil! We had a great day yesterday. We started with a tour in Moji de Cruses of a Valtrac tractor factory. They are owned by Agco. While I am certainly not a tractor enthusiast, it was very interesting to see the assembly line and hear how a multinational agriculture corporation functions.

After that we headed west for 3 hours to Piricaba where we visited a sugarcane growers cooperative. They descibed their three areas of assistance for growers. Those are techincal information, political organization and social assistance. The technical work is alot like Extension work. They provide information on variety selection, soil analysis, and anylizing the cane for quality. The social assistance is mainly in health care.

Everyone has been extremely friendly and hospitable. I will expand on impressions of the country in future blogs. We are off the Agriculture University for the day today. More to come soon...

November 11, 2008

Visit to UNICA

The University of Minnesota Extension arrived in Sao Paulo Brazil late on Monday evening. We checked in to our hotel and got situated for an early morning tour Tuesday.

This morning we attended the main offices of the Brazilian Sugar Industry Association (UNICA). UNICA is the largest organization representing the sugar and bioethanol sectors. This association is comprised of a board of directors comprising of member companies. Those involved are primarily suger and bioethanol processors in the state of Sao Paulo. They are very active at looking towards increasing production of sugarcane and ethanol from sugarcane. They were very quick to point out that the growth of this sector in Brazil has huge potential and that this growth is very minimal in the Amazon region.

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