October 9, 2008

Brazil to Have 7 Million More Hectares of Land for Sugarcane Production

Brazil to have 7 million more hectares of land for sugarcane production

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's Environment Minister Carlos Minc announced an expansion project on Wednesday to have 7 million more hectares of land for planting sugarcane.

The expansion project aims to boost ethanol production without damaging food production or causing a hike in food prices, Minc said in Brasilia during a public hearing on agriculture and land reform.

The whole project is expected to finish by the end of the year.

In order to fight environmental irresponsibility, sugarcane farmers will receive incentives, the satellite monitoring system will be improved and supervision will be strengthened, said the minister.

Minc said that the increment in the cultivated area is necessary for the fulfillment of Brazil's National Plan for Climate Change, which foresees an 11 percent increase per year in ethanol production, requiring an annual increase of 6 million hectares of cultivated land.

He reaffirmed that the expansion would not be conducted in the protected areas, as he had assured in August that there would not be "a single sugarcane stalk in the Pantanal or the Amazon rainforest region."

Brazil boasts the biggest national fuel ethanol industry in the world. Gasoline sold in Brazil contains at least 25 percent of ethanol and anhydrous ethanol is used as fuel for more than 90 percent of new cars sold in the country.

Brazil has 8.98 million hectares of sugarcane field in 2008, and its sugarcane yield is expected to reach a record high of 559 million tons this year, with most of the sugarcane crops to be used to produce ethanol fuel, according to a study released early last months.

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