Brazil’s Lula to present pastureland recovery policy at COP-28
By L. Paraguassu
BRASILIA, Nov 10 2023 – A plan to recover degraded pastures in farm powerhouse Brazil will be officially announced as government policy and presented at the COP-28 climate summit in Dubai by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, an official said.
The plan, which is being devised by the Agriculture Ministry, has been submitted to Lula for approval, Carlos Augustin, special advisor to Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro, told Reuters.
Lula is expected to formally announce it on Nov. 22, ahead of the summit in the following week.
The timing coincides with efforts by Brazil, also the largest global producer and exporter of sugar, coffee and orange juice, and a top supplier of chicken, to improve its environment record as the country braces for new EU regulations banning deforestation-linked commodities.
The new policy aims at giving farmers financial incentives to buy or lease degraded land, most of which is currently used for low-tech cattle ranching, Augustin said.
As part of the initiative, development bank BNDES could set up a fund to attract foreign capital, which in turn could be directed to land recovery efforts.
“We have millions of hectares of land that are degraded, unproductive, that we can recover,” Lula said during a meeting with soybean crusher lobby Abiove this week.
Soybean and beef production in Brazil, the world’s biggest supplier of both, is frequently associated with deforestation in endangered biomes like the Amazon and the Cerrado.
According to Augustin, Brazil has 200 million hectares of land dedicated to livestock farming, and 200 million head of cattle, a low average.
While some livestock farming is more productive, much of this land is practically unused.
“If you double this average, you have 100 million hectares for farming with the same livestock production,” he said.
The government’s proposal should bolster overall land productivity in the country, avoiding the need to expand land use and allowing Brazil to produce more food on the already available areas.
According to Augustin, the administration wants farmers to invest in soil recovery, use of biological inputs, promote no-till farming and other sustainable techniques to be eligible for subsidized loans under the policy.
As Brazilian food importers, Japan, South Korea, China and Saudi Arabia have shown interest backing investments of this type.
“It’s also a question of food security. The world is interested in increasing food production.”
Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by David Gregorio