At the end of May, the wheat harvest begins in the Cerrado of Minas Gerais, Goiás and the Federal District. Planting occurs between the end of February and the beginning of March, and the growing season is called by the safer farmers and occurs after harvesting other crops, especially soybeans.
This year, 290 thousand tons of wheat will be harvested in the three States, 4 thousand tons more than in 2018, according to Companhia Nacional de Abastecimento (Conab). The volume is equivalent to 5% of the wheat harvest to be harvested in Brazil in 2019.
The data, however, underestimate one fact: the country started to produce wheat in an area unimaginable in the recent past, with soil and climate different from those of traditional growing regions, such as Paraná (main national producer) or Argentina (main supplier foreign currency).
Wheat harvested in the Cerrado has comparative advantages. “The harvest is made when it does not rain. Do not drop gluten from the grain. Then you have an improved wheat, wheat bread, which results in a superior quality flour,”says Luiz Fiorese, a rural farmer in Formosa (GO) and a supplier of wheat seed (of the dry type), recorded as cultivar BRS 404.
The seed that the producer Fiorese sells was developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), which, last Friday 26th, completed 46 years of creation. The production of wheat in the Cerrado shows a recurrent association in Brazilian agriculture between private initiative and state enterprise. “It’s a technology transfer partnership. We prepare the soil, but knowledge we have to acquire,”the producer told Agência Brasil.
The productive arrangements triggered by technological innovation contributed to the country becoming one of the largest producers of food in the world. “We are the largest agricultural nation on the planet, and Embrapa is part of this process,” said the executive secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Map), Marcos Montes, during the commemoration of the company’s anniversary this week.
The director of Research and Development of Embrapa, Celso Luiz Moretti, agrees. According to him, the company “helped Brazil to be the only country in the world in the tropical belt to produce food to supply seven times its population.” “The country feeds, with what produces fruit, grains and vegetables, meat, milk and eggs, among other products, 1.5 billion people,” he said.
By 2019, the country is expected to produce 235.3 million tons of grain. Since the state-run, in 1973, production has grown fivefold. Wheat production increased by 240%.
In 46 years, other productions stood out, such as rice (315% high) and coffee (140%), as well as vegetable extractivism. In the period, Brazil became the largest producer of animal protein in the world – the cattle herd doubled in size and the production of chicken meat grew 59 times.
The level that Brazil assumed in food production and the place it occupies in the world economy of commodities are factors in consideration in the agricultural policy and in the technological innovation of the sector, according to the president of Embrapa, Sebastiao Barbosa. “We did not worry about it because other countries did not see Brazil as a competitor,” he recalled.
In a speech at the state’s anniversary ceremony, Barbosa said that “Embrapa is prepared to start a new virtuous circle to continue guaranteeing science, technology and innovation for an even more promising future for Brazilian agribusiness.”