The 4th Brazilian Agribusiness Congress, to discuss the tendencies of world agribusiness, has begun in the city of São Paulo, in southeastern Brazil, Thursday, June 23.
Under the theme Food, Energy and Sustainability, the meeting, promoted by the Brazilian Agribusiness Association (Abag), is bringing together around 600 participants and 25 speakers at the Hotel Gran Meliá.
The meeting will include the presence of the Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, of the ministers of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Roberto Rodrigues, and Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, apart from the governor of the state of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin.
Among the speakers are businessmen from large Brazilian and multinational groups, like Antonio Ermírio de Moraes (Votorantim), Josué Christiano Gomes da Silva (Coteminas), Mário Barbosa Neto (Bunge Fertilizers) and Urbano Campos Ribeiral (Agroceres) who are going to discuss important themes for the sector, among them the integration between agriculture, environment and energy, world tendencies, infrastructure and foreign trade.
The statistics show the greatness of this sector. Brazil is the largest world exporter of products in the soy complex, coffee, sugar, orange juice, tobacco, and cattle beef and chicken meat.
Exports are growing, as is the case with meats (32.5%), sugar and alcohol (84%), fruit (16%), wood (18.4%), coffee (65%) and tobacco (14%).
With 34% participation in the country Gross Domestic Product (GDP), agribusiness answers to 42% of the Brazilian exports, placing the country in a position of prominence among the most competitive nations in the world in the production of agroindustrial commodities.
Despite the record of 18.2 million tons in the 2004/05 crop – soy crops alone totalled over 10 million tons – and exchange rates that are unfavorable to foreign trade, exports of agricultural products are still strong.
A sample of the strength of the sector is the fact that the country is the fourth largest agricultural exporter in the world, and is growing on average 6% a year.
“We had a very complicated agricultural year in 2004/2005, having lost a large part of our production, but Brazil has exceptional agricultural competence and has shown in previous complex situations that it can sort itself out,” stated Carlo Lovatelli, president of the Abag.
According to figures supplied by the Foreign Relations Secretariat of Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, between January and May this year, agribusiness exports generated US$ 15.994 billion, a record for the period, and 13.5% more than in the same period in 2004.
In May, Brazil exported US$ 3.75 billion in agricultural products, 10% more than in May of the previous year.
Another example of the good performance of the sector is demonstrated by the numbers of the economy in the first quarter of 2005.
According to the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE), agriculture alone, which grew 2.6%, and exports sustained the GDP growth, which was 0.3% in the period in comparison to the same quarter in 2004, registering the lowest rate of growth since the second quarter of 2003.
However, despite the rates of growth, businessmen and specialists in the sector consider that many aspects must still be discussed and analysed.
For this reason, one of the focuses of the congress will be the environmental question and production of food. “The thesis that soy farming is the cause of deforestation is an extremely bizarre idea,” stated Lovatelli.
For the president of the Abag, the question of environmental protection may be used to limit the Brazilian operation at the World Trade Organization (WTO), as non-tariff barriers have become the most fertile field for commercial questioning.
Bioenergy and Sustainability
Another important theme to be discussed at the congress is bioenergy and sustainability, which are important matters for the sector.
“Brazil has space, competence, sun, water and technology to explore bioenergy. We already have programs for ethanol and biodiesel for domestic consumption and export.
“Large deals are already being made with other countries. This is undoubtedly the great business of the future in the agribusiness sector,” stated Lovatelli.
The questions of logistics, which were also discussed in the first edition of the congress, are also included in this one, as they represent the largest bottleneck in the sector, together with taxes.
The congress is geared to businessmen, farmers, investors, professionals in various sectors of agribusiness, consultants and academics, and is organized with the support of Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply.
Information and registration
Anba – www.anba.com.br