Brazil should harvest 547 million tons of sugar cane by March 2008, the equivalent of a 15.2% increase over the previous crop, as announced by the president at the National Food Supply Company (Conab), Wagner Rossi. Based on the second field survey, conducted by Conab technicians in power plants and sector organizations, from the 06th to the 17th this month, he stated that 473 million tons (86.47% of the total) are going to be destined for sugar and alcohol production.
The remainder will be used in the manufacturing of cachaça (typical Brazilian cane spirit), rapadura (solid brown sugar sold in the shape of a brick), animal feed, and seeds.
According to Wagner Rossi, the technicians at the plants aim to maintain the same levels of sugar production, at around 30 million tons, or even to reduce it slightly, at around 0.6%, due to the "low market price for the commodity," as costs have decreased by nearly 40% last year.
He said that, on the other hand, alcohol production should increase from 17.471 billion liters, in the last crop, to 21.298 billion liters. This equals a 21.9% increment, "driven mostly by the great demand for alcohol in the domestic and foreign markets."
The survey, conducted at 346 plants and distilleries, as well as 60 sector organization in the sugar and alcohol industry, came to the conclusion that the cultivated area for sugar cane grew by 12.3%, rising from 6.2 million hectares, in the last crop, to 6.9 million hectares in the current one.
There has been an expansion in all regions of the country, but the growth was more pronounced in the states of São Paulo (Southeast), Minas Gerais (Southeast), Mato Grosso (Midwest), Mato Grosso do Sul (Midwest), Goiás (Midwest) and Paraná (South), which concentrate 82.27% of the country's total sugar cane production.