Harvest Exceeds Storage Capacity in Brazil for the First Time in 20 Years

Foto/Photo: Wenderson Araujo/Trilux

“To mitigate the effects of this deficit, of approximately 1.5 million tonnes, it is recommended to encourage the building of warehouses…”

Guilherme Ribeiro is the CEO of Companhia Nacional de Abastecimento – Conab (National Supply Company – Conab), has graduated in international relations from Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado, is master in management and public policies from Fundação Getúlio Vargas and holds an MBA in digital transformation and future of business from PUC-RS.

Ribeiro ends his term in February, giving way to Deputy Edegar Pretto as the Company’s new CEO.

AgriBrasilis – The summer harvest will be greater than the storage capacity. How to mitigate this issue?

Guilherme Ribeiro – In recent decades, Brazil has been one of the main suppliers of food to the world. According to data from the 4th Brazilian Grain Crop Monitoring Bulletin, released by Conab on January 12th, production is estimated at approximately 310.9 million tonnes for the 2022/23 harvest.

Considering the summer harvests of rice, corn and soybean, a production of 189.5 million tonnes is estimated for the 2022/23 season, slightly higher than the national storage capacity, reaching approximately 188 million tonnes.

To mitigate the effects of this deficit, of approximately 1.5 million tonnes, it is recommended to encourage the building of warehouses, especially at the farm level, the use of temporary structures and investments in technologies that improve the flow of reception, drying and dispatch in existing warehouses, as well as the mobilization of other logistical processes for the flow of production.

AgriBrasilis – How are Conab’s production estimates made? What was the evolution of national production in the last 5 years?

Guilherme Ribeiro – The continuous monitoring of the Brazilian grain harvest is carried out by trained professionals, who visit farms, talk to farmers, sector professionals and state institutions. This data collection is complemented with the use of geotechnologies, from the mapping of cultivated areas and climate and spectral monitoring, giving us an idea of the progress of farms.

For soybeans and corn, we also conduct objective yield data collection. Sampling points are established. Subsequently, Conab teams visit these locations, collect plant samples and count the number of grains. These data are extrapolated to homogeneous regions, what contributes to greater precision in the expected productivity estimates.

Statistics play an important role in Conab’s data collection, especially in the initial survey, where statistical models support area and yield prediction. In addition to collecting monthly data, Conab carries out weekly monitoring, resulting in technical reports on the conditions of the main crops in the field. Information includes tracking the progress of sowing and harvesting, phenology, the influence of climate on development, and the occurrence of any pests or diseases. This work is carried out in collaboration with Inmet – Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia (National Institute of Meteorology) , so that it is possible to disseminate climate forecasts for the seven days after publication and their possible impacts on crops.

Brazilian production should increase approximately 34% between the 2017/18 and 2022/23 harvests, going from 231.7 million tonnes to an estimated 310.9 million tonnes, according to data from the 4th Monitoring Bulletin of the Brazilian Grain Crop.

AgriBrasilis – What was the influence of climate on these results? What other factors affected production?

Guilherme Ribeiro – The climate is certainly one of the main variables that affect productivity and, consequently, production. Considering the previous information, although production will have grown by around 34% in the last 5 years, the increase in cultivated area should correspond to less than 25%, totaling 77 million hectares in 2022/23.

It is important to point out that the second and third crops are grown on the same soil as the first one. This optimizes the use of this resource.

In addition to the climate, the remunerative prices observed in recent years and investments in technology and technical assistance in the field have contributed to raising production levels in the country.

AgriBrasilis – You have stated that your goal was to improve the capture and processing of data on Brazilian agricultural production. Has this goal been achieved?

Guilherme Ribeiro – Yes, definitely. This goal is being achieved and it is a continuous improvement over our estimates. This change is based on the Company’s direction of providing the most diverse market agents with the best agricultural statistics, in an even more precise and predictable manner, in order to reduce the asymmetry of information in the sector.

Conab has dedicated field teams to gathering information and adopted tools focused on statistics, capable of determining better samples and carrying out a more adequate treatment of the numbers collected in the field.

AgriBrasilis – How do you evaluate your management at Conab? What will be the challenges of the next management?

Guilherme Ribeiro – Conab has strategic importance because it offers technical information to support decision-making for the elaboration of public policies for agriculture.

Conab is responsible for implementing social inclusion programs with an emphasis on job and income generation. It participates as the executing agency of government projects and actions that contribute to the well-being of communities facing food and nutritional insecurity.

The highlight of my period as manager at Conab was the reorganization of the generation of agricultural production statistics in Brazil. We made technical and operational improvements at the Company. This had not been done for a long time. With 32 years of experience, if the modus operandi is not updated, there is no way to move forward, make new achievements and reach our main objectives.

It was precisely by improving the technical part that we were able to evolve in all areas at Conab: increasing the accuracy of harvest data, with investments in technology and human capital, generating credibility in the market; new methodologies for estimating and monitoring crop productivity were adopted, resulting in scenarios with forecast impacts on productivity and prices.

The data made available free of charge by Conab contribute to decision-making by public and private agents linked to the agricultural sector. The information is strategic for the country’s economic development and for a greater supply of food in Brazil and in the world.

In this scenario of growth and strengthening of the Brazilian sector in the world, Conab can contribute with the provision of information, more accurate data surveys, in order to assist in decision making and better management by the farmer. This brings more transparency, reduces the asymmetry of information between farmers and the other links in the production chain, facilitating the risk management of the activity. On the other hand, it helps public managers to adopt better policies for the sector.

For the future, the challenge is to maintain what is working and increasingly improve the accurate generation of data (intelligence), that was the focus of our management that ends now, maintaining the credibility achieved in our crop announcements and helping a sector that contributes so much to the economic and social advancement of the country.



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