February 4, 2008


Last night, hearing the sound of carnival drums in the background, I read a fantastic article in Fortune Magazine (Jan. 21 Edition) titled "How Brazil Outfarmed the American Farmer". The article explains how Brazil, in less than two decades, became a global agricultural superpower (#1 in soybeans, beef, poultry, pork, coffee, orange juice concentrate, sugar and ethanol) resulting in US$ 27.5 billion in farm trade surplus in 2006. The article focuses more on soybeans. Brazil has developed a competitive advantage with soybeans, outplacing U.S.'s traditional dominance. The reason is a combination of the cerrado's ideal climate yielding two to three crops a year, lower production costs, abundant farmland and government investment in crop breeding and soil science. Embrapa (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária), a network of state-run agricultural research agencies, played a pivotal role in securing Brazil's rising position in the global soy trade.

I always knew that soybeans are widely used for animal feed, as a food ingredient with good source of protein, in the formulation of healthy beverages and in the production of soaps. I was blown away by the amazing number of other uses that soy has. Soy is also used in building materials such as flashing tape, caulk, waterproof membranes that reduce mold, outdoor paint and wainscoting... in the production of candles, shampoos, deodorants, dishwashing liquids, after-shave lotions, disposable wipes... even in the production of lingerie!

Click here to read the article that also raises an important question... what other crops will gain importance in Brazil's growing agribusiness... corn... wheat?

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