Brazil’s wheat exports rise amid urgent ‘return to the fields’ for Ukrainian farmers • Agriculture Policy News

Financial Times editors Michael Pooler, Bryan Harris and Lucinda Elliott reported yesterday that “along with the sugar cane and soybeans growing in his fields in the interior of the state of São Paulo, this year José Odilon De Lima Neto plans to sowing a different crop for the first time.

“‘There may be an investment opportunity in wheat due to complications for summer sowing in Ukraine and Russia,” said the farmer based near the town of Ribeirão Preto.

International grain prices have jumped since Moscow invaded its neighbour, reflecting concerns that the warring nations – which together account for around 30% of all wheat trade – will struggle to deliver to the dozens of countries that rely on them for imports.

“Cereals: World Markets and Trade.” USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service (April 8, 2022).

FT editors noted that “many agricultural businesses in the region are vying for a windfall from rising commodity pricesleading some like De Lima Neto to to expand exit or even light switch in new areas.

But at the same time, high costs or looming shortages of crucial inputs – such as fuel, fertilizer and animal feed – risk undermining their ability to help ensure global food security.

Pooler, Harris and Elliott pointed out that “although Brazil’s largely tropical climates limit the cultivation of wheat, it exported more cereals this year than throughout 2021. Thanks to advances in crop technology, experts believe the country – a traditional net importer of wheat – has the potential to become self-sufficient and even a net seller in the future.

“Brazil, a traditional net importer of wheat, has taken advantage of strong global import demand, tight global supplies and higher international prices to increase its exports. Exports for 2021/22, which are adjusted from 800,000 tonnes this month to 2.5 million, have almost tripled from last year’s total and are just below their 2010/11 record. Brazil, which typically boosts exports in December and declines in April, has exported 2.1 million tonnes so far this year. (“Grain: World Markets and Trade.” USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service (April 8, 2022)).

The FT article added: “Another challenge is that this highly productive corner of the planet is are still coming out of a period of great drought which has hampered the growth of agricultural production and caused financial damage.

“For Brazil, in particular, is concerned about fertilizers, which had become more expensive before the war. The country matters 85 percent of these chemical nutrients that it consumes, with about a quarter of Russia.

“‘For the planting season in septembera lot will depend on the fertilizer availability. A shortage could result in lower productivity,” said [Caio Carvalho, president of the Brazilian Association of Agribusiness (Abag)]. ‘I am very worried.’”

Meanwhile, Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported late last week that,

Ukraine’s state-owned railway company has temporarily restricted the transport of certain agricultural goods through border crossings to Poland and Romania, consultancy firm APK-Inform said on Saturday.

“That gave no reason for the restrictions.

“Ukraine, a major agricultural producer, used to export most of its goods through seaports, but since the invasion of Russia, forced to export by train via its western border.”

And Kelsey Micklas recently reported to CBS News Online that “So far, the United Nations World Food Program has been able to reach over 1 million people in Ukraineproviding ready-to-eat food, bread and cash assistance.

“But [World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley] said the war had caused a dramatic increase in food aid needs around the world, and Ukraine – a major producer and exporter of agricultural products such as cereals, sunflower seeds and maize – could be delayed in its production because of the war. In 2021, the country exported more than $27 billion worth of agricultural products.

“’It is a very serious problem if we do not put the farmers back in the fields, not just some, but all the farmers in the fields. So they can plant, they can fertilize, they can harvest,’ Beasley said on [Face the Nation].”

“He said it was just as important to reopen the ports.

“‘The Black Sea is closed right now,’ Beasley said. “That’s the base and how 400 million people get their food from Ukraine right now.” So it has to be open.

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