There are two main agricultural areas to the country:
This makes up close to two-thirds of the country and is characterised by a semi-temperate, or moderate, climate.
Silo storage grain in Santos, Brazil
The soils here are fertile and the higher rainfall levels ensure that crops are well irrigated and fed. In addition to the natural resources of Southern Brazil, this area is also home to more advanced farming technology and farmers with extensive experience. Therefore, this region produces most of the country’s grains, export crops and oilseeds.
Northeast Brazil (including some of the Amazon Basin)
This agricultural area is far drier and less equipped. It often succumbs to droughts, and lacks infrastructure, capital and good soil, due to minimal rainfall. This area is occupied mainly by subsistence farmers (who survive off of their produce). However, there are certain crops from this region that are essential for export; such as cocoa, tropical fruits and forest products.
Central Brazil has, for generations, been considered to be unsuitable for farming. However, this area (partly known as cerrados) is now booming, being used extensively for mechanised crop agriculture.
Vast expanses of this land are still to be developed, being used only in pasture, but having the potential to produce excellent farming and exporting crops. This area was once very isolated, due to there being a lack of roads and other important infrastructure. That all changed in the 1960’s, when Brasilia was established and made the new country capital. Livestock farming began in the area and was thought to be the only viable type of agriculture, since the soils were poor in quality and unable to sustain crops. However, it was discovered that soybeans actually thrived in these conditions, particularly with the ever-developing means of cultivating these tough soils. Today, a number of crops are grown here.
Cattle farming remains one of this country’s key industries, since Brazil produces millions of tonnes of beef every year. Cattle farming occurs mainly in Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás and Minas Gerais.
Significantly, Brazil is also the second-largest producer of soybeans on the planet. These beans and their derivatives are used extensively all over the world. Mato Grosso and Paraná together produce almost half of the entire country’s soybean volume.
Brazil is the global leader in the production of sugarcane, harvesting more than 600 million tonnes of it every year. The states responsible for the growth of sugarcane include São Paulo, Pernambuco, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Goiás and Paraná, amongst others.
The agriculture of Brazil (as with other countries in the world) presents a number of problems. For one, deforestation occurs to make room for agricultural areas. This causes greenhouse gas emissions and drastically reduces the amount of oxygen available to the world. It also reduces the natural habitat of many species of plants and animals, having devastating effects on their numbers.