Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cerquilho City - Piracicaba City - Campinas - Campo Grande - Aquidauana

Day 3 continued: After visiting the sugarcane mill and ethanol plant in the morning, the group traveled on to Piracicaba City to learn about the Brazilian agriculture industry from Dr. Mark Spekken at ESALQ Agricultural University. 

Dr. Spekken provided ‎an overview of the industry. He shared the main products historically for Brazil are sugar, cattle, rubber, coffee and cotton. Around 1960, Brazil started incorporating mechanization, intensive cultivation of annual crops and using fertilizer to increase productivity. 

‎In Brazil, farmers can grow two crops a year, usually soybeans from September-February and corn from February to August. 

Some current figures he provided:
Sugarcane‎ 9 million hectares
Eucaliptus‎ 3 million hectares
Cotton 2 million hectares
Oranges .5 million hectareS
Coffee 2.3 million hectares
Beef cattle on pasture 172 million hectares

ESALQ has also started an extension program that consults with local farmers.

Day 4: this morning we visited the IAC Grains and Fibers Centre and its Saint Elisa farm to learn about crop research. IAC's goals are to breed plants for drought tolerance, increase pest resistance and improve yields. All of their research is funded by state government and through additional fundraising (seed/plant sales). Research findings are shared with producers throughout Brazil.

While on site, the group toured several greenhouses and plots to see different stages and varieties of dry, edible beans‎ being tested. 

The Saint Elisa farm is also home to 90% of the world's coffee seed germplasm. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Campinas - Days 2 and 3

The second visit on day 2 was to the Boa Esperanca Cofee Farm. The plantation sits on 400 acres and they raise seedlings in an on-site nursery. The coffee plants are good for 20-25 years, and are cut back periodically.‎ New plants produce beans after three years. 

Like at the citrus farm, harvest is done completely by hand. Each plant is also individually fertilized by hand. During harvest, about 50 pickers are hired, and they are paid by amount they pick (average is 5-8 liter buckets a day)

Day 3 - We drove to Cerquilho City to visit the Santa Maria (Copersucar) Sugarcane Mill and Ethanol plant. Started in 1946, it originally only produced Pinga (sugarcane alcohol). After a few years, it added white sugar and in 1977 ethanol‎ production began.

The sugarcane plantation is on 16,000 hectares and they harvest 1.6 million tons of sugarcane each season, which produces 90,000 tons of sugar and 70,000 tons of ethanol. Daily production at the plant is 360,000 liters of ethanol and 120 fifty kilo bags of sugar.

Harvest is completely by both fire (15%) and machines (85%)‎. However, fire will only be allowed by law until 2017, then will have to all be done by machine.

Brazil is the world's largest sugarcane exporter.

Sao Paulo to Campinas, Day 2

Day 2 found us traveling north to Campinas with stops along the way at a citrus (oranges, tangerines and limes) and a coffee plantation.

Alfa Citrus ( is a family-owned‎ citrus farm started in 1976. They have more than 800,000 trees on 1600 hectares. All of their fruit is 100% harvested by hand - more than 1,000,000 boxed a year! 

The Alfa Citrus farms and packing house are certified by origin warranty program, which ties in with their two pillars: quality and customer relationships.

We'll add more details about the coffee plantation and Day 3 soon!

Monday, June 13, 2016

MAB in Brazil

The Arrival: on Sunday, 30 travelers from across the U.S. And India arrived in Sao Paulo after overnight flights for the start of the K-State Master of Agribusiness farm and ag tour of Brazil. 

Once in Sao Paulo, part of the group participated in a city tour and visited churches and other local sights. The rest of the group drove to the port city of Santos‎.

At the Port of Santos, the group watched ships being loaded and unloaded with cargo, see soybean crushing facilities, as well as cruise the harbor.