barzilBrazil is located on the eastern Atlantic coast of South America, enjoying the status of being the largest country in the Latin America and South American region. The country once was a colony of the Empire of Portugal. Brazil’s population is about 198 million, and the name of its capital is Brasilia. The official language is Portuguese. Administratively, Brazil is a federation comprising 26 autonomous States (headed by governors) and Municipalities (headed by mayors). Due to its fast growing and impressive economy based on natural resources, industry and agriculture, Brazil is presently considered as an economic powerhouse in the world. In spite of its distinguished economic standing, however, a large number of Brazilians still remain poor.

title=Context

Context

In view of its very large geographical size and diverse topography, Brazil has several micro-climates, but the overall climate is tropical, with plenty of rainfall. Thick rain forests lining the Amazon River are well known for their flora, fauna and indigenous population. Most of the southern region of Brazil thrives in agriculture due to having almost all the required natural and man-made ingredients. The northeastern region and the Amazon basin, however, are not that active in agriculture due to a lack of those ingredients.

The agricultural sector, including agribusiness, plays an important role in the Brazilian economic development. Brazil makes an amazing case where, within a period of two decades starting 1990s, agriculture has been transformed from a traditional practice into a global industrial power. Some of the factors contributing to the boom in the Brazilian agricultural sector are vast natural resources, appropriate public policies and institutional reforms, high direct foreign investment, improved infrastructure although not fully, an elaborate and agile agricultural research corporation, presence of large-sized farms although relatively small in number, social extension services for small family farmers, crop diversity including, controversial genetically modified (GM) crops, development of additional land for agriculture, double cropping, till-less cultivation, mechanization, agro-industry base, farmers’ organizations, and environment friendly operations such as low carbon emission program (ABC), organic farming and biofuels. Brazil leads the world in sugarcane and coffee production. Other main crops include corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, tobacco and cotton. The livestock sub-sector is also of great economic value. Agricultural exports are coffee, soybeans, beef, sugarcane, ethanol, orange juice, and frozen poultry. The average size of the country’s 86 percent farms is less than 100 hectares; about 8.2 percent of the farms are between 100 and 1,000 hectares; and only 0.9 percent of the farms are above  1,000 hectares in size. Thus, small family farms, totaling about 4.54 million, compete with large farms, especially in export and agribusiness matters, by organizing themselves in cooperatives and associations.

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq. km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

2,750,300

32.51

71,930,000

8.50

0.36

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)

125.04

2009

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

5,62

127.04

32.19

4.75

2012

2011

2012

2012

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

11630

2012

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

90.29

98.69

97.44

101.27

109.99

2009

2009

2009

2009

2005

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

125.18

49.84

2012

2012

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

198,656,019

23.27

30,053,874

15.12

10.60

103,193,816

11,049,000

10.70

24.52

2012

2011

2012

2012

2012

2011

2010

2010

2010

Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (October 2013)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson