Rice Industry Association says country can reach 3.5 million tonnes in exports, including the stocks from Mercosur neighbors
While India, the world’s leading rice exporter, has restricted shipments of the grain, Brazil signaled Wednesday, in an event at the World Trade Organization (WTO), that it is ready to expand its exports and contribute to global food security.
The Brazilian Rice Industry Association (Abiarroz) says that the country, which already exports 1.5 million tonnes per year, has the capacity to add more 2.5 million tonnes, including the stocks coming from Mercosur neighbors.
“The cost of rice production in Brazil is much higher than in the Mercosur partners,” said Abiarroz’s director Andressa Silva, in reference to costs involving environmental, labor and logistical issues, among others.
“Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina export rice at a lower price to Brazil, which ends up generating a surplus, because our production is adjusted to consumption. And Brazil is working to become a rice export platform in Mercosur, with domestic production and the volumes it absorbs.”
This week, at a meeting of G20 agriculture ministers, Qu Dongyu, director-general of FAO, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, stressed that persistent high consumer food prices and inflation have “devastating implications for global food security.”
“While we witnessed improvements in the forecasts for wheat and soybean markets, the outlook is less positive for maize and rice, and fertilizer markets remain supply-constrained and volatile,” he said.
In the panel led by Abiarroz at the WTO Public Forum, specialists once again pointed out the risks arising from restrictions on food exports. Peter Draper, with the University of Adelaide (Australia), mentioned WTO data that indicated that in April, 61 export bans on food products were in force in 32 countries. As of last week, 46 measures remained in place in 27 countries.
Professor Renata Amaral, with the American University (Washington), indicated that further restrictions on shipments may be adopted, also due to the cascade effect, with consequent shortages in supply.
India, which exports rice to 150 countries boosted by subsidies, recently banned shipments of the so-called “broken rice,” considered second category and widely used in animal feed, but which is bought by several African countries for human consumption because it is cheaper. In addition, the country restricted the sale of various types of the product (white, brown, and others), maintaining shipments of basmati rice.
Ms. Silva, with Abiarroz, pointed out that consumers are harmed when governments boost agricultural production with subsidies, distort the market, and ban exports. And, in this scenario, an increase in Brazilian exports could help in the efforts to strengthen global food security.
Carolina Matos, Abiarroz’s export manager, said there are opportunities to expand exports to Central and North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Brazil is the tenth largest world producer (2% of the total) and the largest producer outside Asia. Currently it is the 12th largest exporter of processed rice, of better quality.
Alexandre Parola — Foto: Ailton de Freitas/Agência O Globo
The Brazilian ambassador to the WTO, Alexandre Parola, highlighted sustainability aspects in Brazilian production. According to Abiarroz, Brazilian rice has the lowest levels of arsenic, thanks to the soil, and is not transgenic. In addition, 80% of the production is in the South region, therefore far from the Amazon. In 45 years, the size of the cultivated area has plummeted in the country, but production has doubled, with significant gains in productivity.
*By Assis Moreira — Geneva
Source: Valor International