Brazil to unveil plan to increase farmland by 60%
November 24, 2023 03:10 PM
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will unveil a plan at the UN's upcoming COP28 climate summit to increase Brazil's available agricultural lands by 60 percent without contributing to deforestation, his government announced Thursday.
The South American country will move to convert degraded grazing areas into farmland, the government announced a week ahead of the climate summit, set to kick off in Dubai on November 30.
"We carried out a study and counted nearly 160 million hectares (395 million acres) of grazing areas. Of this total, around 40 million hectares (99 million acres) are located in degraded grazing areas, but very suitable for crops," Roberto Perosa, a Ministry of Agriculture official, told a news conference.
"With a certain investment in the soil, this land can be converted into an arable area."
Over the next 10 years the government plans to invest $120 billion to expand the amount of farmland in the country, which has become a global agricultural powerhouse.
The move, if successful, would increase Brazil's farmland from 65 million to 105 million hectares "without felling a single tree" -- a huge concern in the Amazon nation.
Current private initiatives can convert about 1.5 million hectares of pasture land per year, Perosa said -- a number the government wants to supercharge with backing from Brazilian financial institutions.
Lula, the country's left-wing president, has made environmentalism and the defense of the Amazon rainforest key policy concerns.
At the same time, agriculture remains a massive cornerstone of the economy, with powerful political influence.
Deforestation of the Amazon -- often from farmers, miners and cattle ranchers -- increased notably under his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.
Lula has promised an end to illegal deforestation by 2030.