The secret behind Brazilian agricultural boom

May, 2012

Four decades of investment in Brazilian agriculture has today placed the country in the forefront in agricultural production and this contributed in its ranking as the 6th richest country in the world (a head of the UK).

While many technological advancements and heavy investments in research contributed to this growth, a simple farming strategy accounts for a better part of this advance, -at least in the case of production of grains like soybean, maize and cowpea. The strategy is known as “plantio direto”, translated as tillage. Unlike the conventional tillage we learn in school, this is a well planned and projected tillage that involves “saving“the soil and vegetation cover over a period of time through single land clearing. Following harvest, a new kind of crop is planted without clearing for the second time. Perfected over a long period of time, this approach has led to an increase of more than 400% in the production of grains in the country. For example, an area that produces 1,000 Kg in a normal land can produce up to 10,000 Kg of soy bean when subjected to the tillage strategy.  Today, 70% of the arable land in the 8,514,877Km2 land area of Brazil (about 9 times the size of Nigeria), is cultivated through direct planting strategy or tillage using three to four different crops all in the same year. Besides economizing fuel for machinery, this strategy reduces the use of fertilizer by 50%.

This video is in Portuguese but if you follow it, you´ll understand.

The other day, Nigerian Minister of Agriculture was on BBC Hausa service proudly informing listeners that their government will be importing improved rice seeds from China when homegrown and simple strategies such as tillage can address some of the agricultural problems of the country.

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