England Wants to Partner with Brazil to Make Ethanol in Africa

European governments are interested in financing the production of ethanol with Brazilian technology in African countries. This information was disclosed yesterday, November 28, by the former minister of Agriculture of Brazil, Roberto Rodrigues, soon after being sworn in as coordinator of the Agribusiness Center at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), in São Paulo.

Rodrigues said that the governments of Holland and England showed interest in developing ethanol projects in partnership with Brazil in impoverished countries on the African continent. Sudan is one of the African nations that has organized missions to Brazil seeking technology for the production of alcohol.

The Agribusiness Center, which will promote studies and research in the area, will have as one of its main focuses agro-energy, energies produced from agricultural products, as is the case with ethanol that, in Brazil, is made out of sugarcane.

The idea, according to the former minister, is that the center should generate greater intelligence in the area. FGV already operated in agribusiness, but in different departments spread around the institution. The works will now be centered at the new center, which will be led by the former minister.

The Center should offer a specialization course in agro-energy. According to Rodrigues, it should be developed by FGV together with the University of São Paulo (USP) College of Agriculture (Esalq) and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa). The institutions also want the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

"We have 310 alcohol mills in Brazil and over 160 planned. There will be demand for qualified professionals," stated the former minister. The actions of the center will also include, according to Rodrigues, meetings and debates with other countries.

For Brazil, according to Rodrigues, ethanol being a commodity is interesting to Brazil. There is no significant volume of trade of a product if it is only produced by one country. It is fundamental for other countries to start producing it too, with consumption taking place in the producer country and the excess being exported," he said.

There are countries, according to the former minister, that are not capable of promoting great biomass programs, due to the quality of the land. This is the case, according to him, with India and China, which should demand great volumes of ethanol.

Nowadays, Brazil and the United States are the main producers of ethanol. The North Americans produce the product from maize. Due to the domestic demand, however, the country does not export large volumes of ethanol.

But there are also already projects and production of ethanol in countries like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Colombia. In Africa and Asia, according to him, there is also interest.

The governments of Holland and England, according to Rodrigues, have stated to him and to the current minister of Agriculture, Luí­s Carlos Guedes Pinto, their interest in developing joint ethanol projects in Africa. Guedes participated yesterday in the ceremony in which Rodrigues was inaugurated at the Agribusiness Center.

According to Rodrigues, Brazil may double its production of ethanol in ten years using the same area for cultivation of sugarcane, currently estimated at three million hectares. There are another three million hectares with sugarcane used for the production of sugar. According to minister Guedes, it is even possible to triple ethanol production "without knocking down one tree".

The current minister made a point of addressing the matter of deforestation to contest articles that have been published in the foreign press, guaranteeing that Brazil has promoted deforestation to expand agriculture.

According to the minister, a study developed by the Embrapa, to be disclosed in the near future, shows that Brazil currently has 69.5% of the natural forests there were in the country eight thousand years ago, whereas Europe has just 0.3%. "The territory that most conserved its biomass on the planet was Brazil," stated Guedes.

The Agribusiness Center is part of the FGV São Paulo School of Economics. The actions to be developed by the Center will be research and the study of themes related to agribusiness, the promotion of courses, the promotion of information relevant to the sector through web page AgroAnalysis, already connected to the magazine that goes by the same name, and also the development of projects and consultancy in the area.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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