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Brazil may be self-sufficient in wheat in 10 years, experts say

sexta-feira, junho 03, 2022


Brazil can become self-sufficient in wheat production for consumption within ten years.

The statement is from researchers from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (Embrapa), who have already reaping significant results in their research in the field and presented them at the public hearing promoted on Thursday (2), in the Committee on Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (CRA). The challenge is to exceed the almost 13 million tons consumed today in the country, currently 50% imported.

The hearing was requested by Senators Chico Rodrigues (União-RR) and Acir Gurgacz (PDT-RO), who were responsible for bringing to debate the results of embrapa's recent research on the tropicalization of wheat crops and the prospects of expanding production to the states of the North and Northeast regions.

Chico Rodrigues, who alpaid R$ 500,000 in a budget amendment to Embrapa, said he will continue to direct resources to develop research to meet the demand of the Roraima state.

"Researchers will achieve exceptional results, giving farmers the conditions to plant wheat crops, expand. We have fantastic potential, we are sure that the result will be what is expected", said Chico Rodrigues.

Senator Carlos Fávaro (PSD-MT) recalled that in the face of the war of Ukraine and Russia, major world producers, Brazil once again discovered it necessary to increase wheat production. "With research tied to public policy, we will seek self-sufficiency," said Carlos Fávaro (PSD-MT).

New frontiers

Roraima, Ceará, Piauí and Maranhão are some of the states that appear as new frontiers of wheat, currently produced mostly in the Southern region (90%).

According to the Chief General of Embrapa Trigo, Jorge Lemainski, 19% of consumption is located in the Southern Region; 42% in the Southeast Region; 5.5% in the Midwest Region; 22% in the Northeast Region; and 10% in the Northern Region, in a total of 12.7 million tons demanded.

"We are devoting all effort to increasing the cultivation area. There is an agricultural frontier to be explored in this regard. When we have profitability, the producer will increase their production," Lemainski said.

Embrapa Cerrado wheat researcher Júlio Albrecht showed that the wheat production area is migrating to the Cerrado region.

"We have, in the Cerrado, 204 million hectares and we can explore without felling trees, only growing in degraded regions. Embrapa has always believed in wheat in this region. We are able to reach self-sufficiency and even wheat exports in less than 10 years," he said.

In terms of import costs to Brazil, wheat only loses to oil, according to Albrecht. The bet is to bring together genetics, research and qualified producers.

In addition to demand, wheat is welcome to the production system because it is a suppressive plant for soil and weed diseases, in addition to reducing the infestation of nematodes (veres), providing straw to the soil and making the production system healthier.

"The Cerrado can become a third or second national wheat producer. Production takes place in the off-season, we are close to the consumer center and today we harvest one of the best wheatin the world for baking. We are also achieving the best productivity," Albrecht said.

The national average is 2.8 tons per hectare, but in 2021 there was a record with a national producer obtaining 9 tons.

Roraima

Embrapa Roraima's Chief General, Edvan Alves Chagas confirmed that the state has more than 2 million hectares suitable for grain production and that, more recently, there is a demand for wheat production.

The state faces some challenges, such as low latitude and altitude, high temperatures and relative humidity. However, Embrapa's research indicates good results in wheat production.

"Believing in science, and resonating ourselves in Embrapa's research, we began the first trials with wheat. The results were very encouraging and the cultivars tested showed excellent results, with three tons per hectare, in a cycle of 66 days. This really is fantastic and allows us to make two crops with this wheat. Results also showed that the flour from the grains harvested in Roraima present a good quality for baking", said Chagas.

The production of tropical wheat in Roraima will bring food security and foreign exchange sources, according to the head general of the unit in Roraima, and will be an option for cultivation after the soybean crop, which in the state already suffers from rust (a disease that affects the crop).

The researcher also believes that with the cultivation of wheat it will be possible to attract industries focused on grinding. It is also necessary, according to Chagas, to insert the cultivar into the production system and study other purposes for its use, besides human consumption.

"We still have big challenges, so the support of all the links involved in the chain is extremely important in order to be able to move forward," he said.

In addition, Senator Zenaide Maia (Pros-RN) mentioned how much the work developed by Embrapa is "unquestionable" for the largest and best food production in the country.

"We need more investment in science and technology. Despite the di-investment, Embrapa stands by its persistence", noted the senator.

A soybean producer in the state of Roraima, Geraldo Falavinha also participated in the hearing and made himself available to Embrapa to make the first plantations on an industrial scale in the region.

Global situation

Around the world, 779 million tons of wheat are harvested today.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- two major grain producers -- has shown that there may be shortages in the face of the parity that is now between production and consumption, without significant surpluses.

"Russia and Ukraine account for 30% of production and the context of war influences, yes, on the prices that will be passed on. These higher prices are an attraction for increased production in Brazil," said Tiago Pereira, technical advisor to the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA).

In the current harvest, according to Pereira, Brazil reached the mark of 7.7 million tons of wheat and for the next one should hit 8 million. 50% of what is consumed in the country are still imported, and 80% of this amount comes from Argentina.

The increase in national production must be accompanied by industrialization, according to the CNA advisor, as well as the organization of market and logistics.The country now has 165 wheat mills in activity.

Source: Canal Rural

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