The representative of Brazil’s National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA), Alécio Maróstica, informed that Asian rust, a disease that attacks soybeans, caused a five million ton crop failure last year in Brazil.
“This rust appeared in greater quantity in the 2001 and 2002 harvests. Then it intensified in 2002 and 2003, and in 2003 and 2004 it exploded and was difficult to control. The total loss, covering the loss of soybeans and what was spent on the fungicides that were used, comes to more than US$ 2 billion,” Maróstica affirms.
Asian rust attacks the leaves of soybean plants and within a few days strips the plants of all their leaves. According to Maróstica, the disease can cause a crop loss of 100%. He informed that preparations are underway for fungicides not to run out, as occurred last year.
The CNA is also trying to make sure that agronomists and technical personnel are better prepared and trained to enlighten farmers.
The United States is currently the largest producer of soybeans, with an annual crop amounting to around 77 million tons. Brazil is the world’s second largest producer. During the last growing year, the country produced 49.7 million tons of soybeans. With rust under control, the goal is for the next harvest to reach 60 million tons.
Most of this production goes to supply markets in Asia, mainly China, and Europe. “Our soybeans are sought for their quality, since they are higher in protein than American soybeans. Their quality is excellent. We have to control this rust to avert losses,” Maróstica warns.
Reporter: Rafael Campelo
Translator: David Silberstein