Farming, Politics

On my way to the farm – An Indigenous Toll

Every week, on my way to the farm, I have to pay a toll for indians.

There is no other choice.
The road that passes over their land is the shortest one that connects Sapezal region(1.500.000 soybeans acres) to the rest of the state. Alternatives are unpractical and at least 100 miles longer.

Knowing that, they charge us on both directions, R$20 (about 8,50 US dollars) on cars or pickups, and R$50 (21,30 US dollars) on trucks.

Toll Receipt

Toll Receipt

Of course, the toll is unconstitutional, and disrespect the right to come and go of any brazilian citizen, but because the enforcement of the law could raise a riot, things stay as they are. In a certain way, everyone that lives around or has a business related to this region, is a hostage of the situation.

The indians aren’t obliged to provide any service in return, but with the road conditions so bad that the ordinary population attitude towards them has been anything but friendly, something different happened last week…they have started using a portion of the toll’s money on road repairs.

So unusual, that became a new of national level.

Highlight: Monsanto - INTACTA RR2 PRO hat

Highlight: INTACTA RR2 PRO™ hat

You can check the whole video report(and my fellow above advertising INTACTA), here.

reserva utiaritireserva utiariti - buracos

reserva utiariti - pagando pedagio

Farming, Politics, Soybeans

Helicoverpa Caterpillar – An Ongoing Fight

Three months ago, just before planting, we were scared on how the now famous Helicoverpa caterpillar would behave in our crops…

This motherf****r goes right in the pods

…scared because we knew that the pesticides currently allowed in Brazil do not control helicoverpa effectively. According to research and previous farm experiences in Bahia, they are only efficient until helicoverpa reaches about 0,5 inch. After that, they look more like vitamins to the caterpillars. Half an inch is a risky threshold and there wasn’t a safeguard, a last minute weapon, so we urged to the approval of emamectin benzoatean effective inseticide available in more than 77 countries, including Australia, Argentina, USA, and Europe, but still under the stuck-in-the-mud brazilian government studies, who apparently judges itself much better than its international counterparts.

Meanwhile, and knowing that this approval could take months to come(or never come), Mato Grosso’s institutions and companies acted quickly to intruct farmers on how to monitore, recognize, and control this plague.  Constant monitoring has been the order since then and fortunately it has worked. We are now in the middle of 2013/14 soybeans season in Brazil. Early fields will start to be harvested next week and by now everything is under control in most places. Costs are higher but yields are not being affected.

Farming, Politics

Amazon Deforestation – A Farmer’s View – The Environmentalists Pretense

Last month, the Brazilian government released its annual figures for deforestation in the Amazon. Interestingly, this one number, despite being a good new, generated a great number of negative headlines around the world. The likes of “Huge increase in Amazon deforestation rate” in the Telegraph, or “Amazon destruction on the rise again” in the Greenpeace, and “Amazon deforestation up by one-third” on a countless eco blogs spreaded around the web. None of them seems to take into account the whole historical series, and on doing that, they induce the reader to misinterpret the data as a calamitous number. 

Let me make it clear.
The chart below shows the numbers since 1988, when mensurations began. You can see the ugly data from a decade ago and beyond, when no one was watching. Then, since 2004, after a series of government measures, rates have fallen drastically. The 2013 figure, 5.843km² is the second smallest deforested area ever in absolute terms. A 78% fall from the peak and just 2% points from the country’s commitment to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80% up to 2020.

2013 deforestation

Amazon deforestation rates since 1988 in square kilometers

A broader look and there is no huge increase or spike in 2013. The actual number indicates the estabilization of a long-term objective and it is where the rate will fluctuate for years to come. Brazil has now the most rigorous environmental legislation in the world. It requires that farms in the Amazon biome must preserve 80% of their arable land. The 20% left, is where deforestation happened this year, and where it will occur on the next. And because private properties comprehend a minority 24% of the Amazon territory, it means only 4,8% are legally suitable for agricultural use. An outrageous number in a world where we desperate need more food.

Anyway, outrageous or not, we can discuss that later. At this moment, what we can say about it, is that is already a great achievement. One that has not yet ceased as international NGOs, the environmental lobby and poor journalism, forces to highlight. What is even more intriguing though, it is that such requirements on private lands do not exist in any other country in the world. Argentina, Europe, Canada, and the United States, have already cleared most of their arable land. Yet, brazilian farmers and ranchers have been sold by environmentalists to the world public as villains of the environment.

Around here…We know we are doing our part. Better than your country, better than anyone else.

Farming, Politics

Indigenous Areas in Brazil – A Farmer’s View – The Anthropologists Pretense

Anthropology is one of the pillars to a sustainable world, no one questions that. It is an essential tool to understand people needs, past connections, integrate them, avoid and correct historical injustices, and make the world a better place. Along with ecology in the recent years it is also likely the science that have most called the attention from the overall, urban population, not directly involved in the issues determinated by its studies. I cite ecology because it is a more global phenomenon and helps foreigners to have an idea on the magnitude of the role that anthrophology has also played in Brazil, especially affecting rural communities.

Let me complete saying that its role is a just, dignified and important role, of course. We are still a country where virgin lands are plenty and as civilization advances to them there is a natural clash between populations. And so the importance of a mechanism to mediate that. That said, its easy to note that for years there wasn’t enough coverage to protect indigenous people interests around here. Agriculture, the one we are talkin about now, grains, started its advance in the 70’s towards the mid-west of the country. The State was not really present in the process, spoils were made, land was seized, killing was common. Not only for indigenous I should add, this was a mess everywhere. Something like the american old-west stories when eveybody was hunting for gold.
Yeah, that is pretty recent. In Mato Grosso for instance, some guys are still alive to tell you these stories eye-on-eye. In some areas, there are three, four papers testifying the ownership of the land, each for a different owner. It is a vestige of that days. Indigenous, without the apparel of  antique lawyers and powder, were the ones that suffered the most amidst the turmoil.

Now, Brazil has finally matured. We are a consolidated democracy, and society is pursuing for retractions wherever it is possible. One of the possible ? Indians, a long suffered minority. An extremely important question, no doubt. But unfortunately, after this initial, noble effort to correct errors from the past, things lost control. What is happening in Brazil has surpassed the level of absurdity. Under the government agencies arms and international NGOs, what is being done in most cases is the spoil of productive land, disestablishment of longtime(10,20y+) rural communities, and the demarcations of gigantic areas to alleged tribes that are wearing Nike shoes, Rayban glasses, and Samsung smartphones.

Under the claim that “We were here before the Brazilian state was even formed” any demarcation seems possible for anthropologists.

Numbers and pictures speaks for itself:





Political hope for Brazil

After 7 years, Brazil is finally going through the resolution of one of its major political scandals of all time, “the Mensalão”. Or in english, something close to “the big monthly allowance scheme”. A scheme where public funds were used to buy political support and nearly caused the Lula administration to collapse.
Maybe, we can compare it to the magnitude of the “Watergate” scandal in the US. Not on the simalirity or severeness of the crime, but on the impression of it on the national consciousness. From now on, in Brazil, every corruption case will be nicknamed “blablabla-mensalão”.

What is different this time, is that Brazil’s Supreme Court has upheld jail terms against most of the politicians, businessmen and bankers convicted in the country’s biggest corruption trial, including Brazil former chief-of-staff José Dirceu.
This is an unthinkable outcome for a country used to let corrupt politicians go unpunished, and it’s certainly a historic moment for the Brazilian legal system and for the stability of institutions in Brazil.

That bring us some hope.
Our infrastructure problems on highways, roads, rails, ports, that brings such a burden on Brazil’s agriculture competitiveness, are all related to this kind of political immorality. If it somehow, someday, ends…or lessen…what a fantastical country this would be.


12:15pm update
Now some interesting “Mensalão” recent facts that might bring you despair:
1) Where was José Dirceu, ex chief of staff, as Brazil’s high court was deciding he would start jail term? On the beach
2) Lula himself was not implicated in the case and has denied any knowledge of the scheme. (Of course, how could he possible know that !? )
3) Mr Genoino, convicted and former party president, is proud of himself. He shouted “Long live the PT!” to a group of supporters before entering the Federal Police headquarters in Sao Paulo to hand himself over.
4) Genoino and Dirceu made some mysterious Bolshevik clenched-fist salute (pic) before handing themselves.
12:20pm update
5) Lula downplayed the accusations, saying the PT had behaved in the same way as other parties. (what is… true…)
6) Brazilian state-run bank Banco do Brasil, Henrique Pizzolato, fled the country to avoid jail.