SAO PAULO: Brazilian grain farmers are relying on northern ports more than ever to ship a bumper grain crop to global export markets, according to the Agriculture Ministry on Thursday.
Whereas Santos is still the main port in Brazil, the so-called Northern Arch ports accounted for almost 24 percent of the country’s soybeans and corn exports in the first seven months of the year, the ministry said referring to Itacoatiara, Itaqui, Santarem, Barcarena and Salvador. This compares with less than 20 percent in the comparable months in each of the prior five years.
In 2012, only roughly 8 percent of corn and soybean exports were shipped through Northern ports, the data revealed.
In the year through July, farmers shipped 15.3 million tonnes of both corn and soybeans through the Northern Arch, compared with an expected total of 26 million tonnes by the end of December, the ministry said.
Greater reliance on those ports underscores the government’s efforts to attract private capital to modernize the country’s logistical infrastructure in a least developed part of Brazil, one of the world’s largest food producers and exporters.
“This confirms the effectiveness of private investment in the Northern regions,” said Carlos Alberto Batista, the ministry’s infrastructure coordinator. Development of the Northern Arch also reduces logistical costs and dependence on the South and Southeastern ports, he added.
On Thursday, Brazil’s Transport Ministry signed the release of about $40.5 million to pave a stretch of the BR-163 highway, which is accessed by farmers in Mato Grosso state to send agricultural commodities to the northern port terminals. The state is responsible for about a third of Brazil’s entire soy and corn production.
The ministry said the money will be used to pave 65 km (40 miles) between Novo Progresso, and Igarape do Lauro, in the state of Para, near the riverside transshipment hub of Miritibuba, from where grains are sent in barges to the port of Barcarena before hitting export markets.
The ministry said the road’s improvement will prevent trucks from getting stuck in mud during Brazil’s rainy seasons. Works should be completed by the end of 2018, it said.