Between 1996 and 2000 Brazil failed to harvest around 28 million tons of grains, solely due to losses that occurred between the sowing and pre-harvesting periods in crops of rice, beans, corn, soybeans, and wheat.
The greatest loss was in 2000, when 6.6 million tons failed to be harvested. Corn was the crop that suffered the greatest damage that year, with losses on the order of 4.1 million tons.
These data come from an unpublished study released March 15 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE): Agricultural Indicators 1996-2003.
The study analyzed and quantified losses in the chief grains cultivated in Brazil and collates a series of statistical data on agriculture produced by the IBGE and various other agencies.
According to the survey, for example, if losses in the first phase are the result of factors more difficult to control, such as climate and disease, losses at harvesttime are due to systematic errors in the adjustment of machinery or the limitations inherent in gathering crops manually, and these problems recur year after year.
The same is true of the post-harvest phase, when losses are caused by inadequate storage, which reduces the quantity and quality of the grains that are deposited.
The choice of means of transportation has also contributed to elevating wastage.
Around 67% of cargos in Brazil are shipped by truck, and, according to the National Confederation of Agriculture, losses due to grain spillage en route come to US$ 977 million (R$ 2.7 billion) each harvest.
Translation: David Silberstein