Lula promises to eliminate deforestation by 2030, but projections from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate a 17% increase in beef production in the next ten years, which could lead to the deforestation of one million hectares per year until 2030. Alternatives to further clearing of the forest are the restoration of the pastures and an increase in productivity, allied with oversight measures that put an end to illegal land grabs.
“A year ago, we made an investment to reform the pastures and we saw the result there. We were able to increase the number of heads, but without the need for new area,” says Fernando Lucas Luczinski of the 166 hectares where he raises beef cattle with his father in Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso. “The replenishment of 24 hectares of the property with fertilizer and lime has already resulted in an increase in pasture production.”
Among the improvements made with support from a consultant, Luczinski introduced rotational grazing on eight hectares of the farm. The technique consists in dividing the pasture into smaller areas, with the cattle moved according to a system of rotation in order to provide time for the area to regenerate.
In addition, running water represented a differential in production: Since the animals tend to graze close to water, distributing it better results in more efficient management of the pasture with productivity increasing as a consequence, as well as reduced spending on logistics and staff. However, the measure can be extended further: “We aren’t able to introduce it for the entire herd. There are small batches that make use of this benefit.”
With the Legal Reserve: a portion of native vegetation that must be maintained on rural properties and whose dimensions vary according to each biome. respected and the Areas of Permanent Preservation: zones, whether covered in native vegetation or not, geared toward the preservation of the water, the landscapes, the ecological balance, the soil and human well-being. fenced in, recuperated or in the process of recuperation, Luczinski says, “I already had the perception that there would be better quality water during the dry season.” Now he says he sees the difference “with the naked eye.” He came to have a surplus of grass in the pasture in the rainy season and the production of his property is around 165 kilos per hectare, almost twice the national average of 97.
The restoration that Luczinski achieved is an old dream for the deforested areas all throughout the Amazon. In his inauguration speech, President Lula (PT) reaffirmed the goal of achieving zero deforestation in the region by 2030. On the other hand, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply projects an increase of slaughtered cattle by four million tons over the next ten years, reaching 12 million in 2030. Due to high demand for exports, with China and the United States at the front of the line, there is the expectation of a 17% increase in the total cattle production in the coming decade.
From Brazilian culture to export
After chicken, beef is the meat that is most consumed by Brazilians, bearing significant cultural value, as Lula has expressed on more than one occasion, “the people need to get back to eating barbecue,” an allusion to improvement in purchasing power and economic recovery.
However, it is not only domestic demand that is signaling growth in the coming decade. In 2022, meat exports – including processed products and those in natura – saw a 26% increase in volume compared with the previous year, with 2.34 million tons exported, and 42% growth in revenue, totaling US$13 billion. A combined increase of 30.5% in exports is projected by 2030.
Restoring the pasture, investing in the utilization of the soil’s potential, is the alternative capable of boosting productivity and preventing the deforestation of one million hectares per year until 2030 while attending the market demand for beef production. This figure could come to represent the destruction if productivity in the Amazon does not improve, according to the study published by Imazon, “Policies for developing cattle-raising in the Amazon without deforestation.”