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‘Brazil’s tech can help India reach 20% ethanol blending’


New Delhi: Brazil has started sharing technology with India to help it achieve 20% ethanol blending for petrol by 2025-2026, and will send indigenous breeds to improve productivity in the livestock and poultry sector, said Brazilian agriculture and livestock minister Carlos Favaro in an interview. Brazil is the world’s second largest producer of ethanol.

Brazil will also take measures to correct some of the imbalance in the agricultural trade relationship by improving market access for Indian agriculture exports, including urea, to Brazil. “We, through some companies, have already started sharing the technology to enhance ethanol blending with petrol. As India produces a lot of sugarcane, it’s easy for them to reach up to 30% because we already have technologies with a capacity of 27.5 that can go up to 30%. The technology that we are sharing with India will help them to achieve the 20% blending target by 2025-26,” Favaro told Mint during his visit to India earlier this month.

“In the past, we have received some genetic materials from other countries in Brazil and we managed to enhance the productivity of those indigenous breeds. Now we are planning to send those genetic materials to India so that they can take advantage of the breed that has higher productivity and increase their net milk and poultry production. We are happy to share it with India. Additionally, to ensure food security, Brazil can help India by transferring more technology, so that the country can produce more and meet their requirements. Embrapa (a Brazilian state-owned research corporation) has the technology to improve the soil quality and productivity to 6,000-7,000 kg per hectare from 2,000 hectares. It is relatively low in cost. This way India’s collaboration with Embrapa will help them produce more than the current production,” Favaro added. In turn, India’s UPL, a Mumbai-based crop nutrition products company, will help Brazil convert degraded pastures into productive land for agricultural uses to increase production and ensure food security, Favaro added. Brazil boasts an extensive landmass of 851 million hectares, with 584 million hectares (66%) covered by forests and 159 million hectares (18.6%) allocated to pastures. Among these pasture lands, 40 million hectares have been identified as having substantial potential for agricultural development, including the production of grains and oilseeds.

“We are committed to ensuring food security and food availability to address hunger and malnutrition. At the same time, we are committed to saving our forests and India can help us a lot in that area. We had a meeting on 2 November with Indian business houses as we are seeking investment to do farming in a way that we produce more so that we don’t need to cut the forest to have more farmland,” Favaro said.

The push for cooperation in agriculture comes ahead of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launching a programme to convert degraded pastures into productive land.

“We have discussed it with some Indian companies like UPL that can help us with the investment,” the agriculture minister said. The estimated cost of pasture restoration, encompassing soil correction, acquisition of modern machinery, the implementation of environmentally responsible agricultural systems, and support for operational expenses is $1,500-3,000 per hectare. Consequently, this project presents investment opportunities of up to $120 billion.

“We (India and Brazil) are both fighting hunger, ensuring food security and preserving the environment. By using this land, we don’t need to go into the Amazon region because we have spare degraded land that we can convert into high-using land,” Favaro added.

Brazil is also looking at India for cooperation in sectors of fertilisers, especially urea, innovative chemical products, bio fertilisers, software and algorithms so that the country can have competitiveness.

Another focus is redressing the unbalanced agriculture trade between India and Brazil. In 2021-22, India exported agricultural goods to the tune of just over $71 million to Brazil and imported similar goods worth $1.4 billion, according to the Indian government’s trade data.

Favaro revealed that both sides are finalising an agreement to grant more access for Indian millets and sorghum in the Brazilian market. India will reciprocate by providing more access to Brazilian avocados and citrus.

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Updated: 14 Nov 2023, 10:40 PM IST

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.