Soybean crop expansion in the Amazônia is a matter of contention in this millennium due to environmental sensitivity and international visibility of the region. The soybean has become the main Brazilian export commodity, with the central-western region the greatest producer in the country, which are mainly cerrado (savannah) areas. This central-western region accounts for around 26.8 per cent of all cultivated areas in Brazil. The State of Mato Grosso, part of the Legal Amazônia, contributes 14.0 per cent of all cropped areas and 24.4 per cent of all soybean cultivation areas in Brazil. Technological breakthroughs and the availability of flat and cheap land provided enormous competitive advantage to Brazil in the international market, in spite of the high transportation costs. Transportation costs are the major problem that drives soybean cultivation to the Amazonian forest region, not the territorial aspect of soybean cultivation. We do recognize the strategic role of the agribusiness for the future of this country and the legitimate interest of the soybean sector in the pavement of the BR-163 Highway to reach the port of Santarém-PA, enabling the sector to benefit from a multi-modal road-fluvial transport system. This will reduce transportation costs and make the Northern export corridor across Amazônia viable. The Ministry of the Environment’s concern is that this investment in infrastructure, though necessary for the whole population in the area of influence, should not aggravate environmental problems such as deforestation, and social and land tenure issues. This is the main reason why the Federal Government decided to create the Inter-ministerial Working Group (IWG) to formulate a regional sustainable development plan for the BR163 Cuiabá-Santarém Highway area of influence.... [continues]
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