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fev 23, 2017

Brazil signs export deal on sustainable soy with the E.U.

Soy products from the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso have been declared sustainable in a trade accord with the European Union. The agreement, signed in January in Lisboa, opens up trade for Mato Grosso soy products in the Old Continent. 

The Memo of Understanding (MoU) approves Brazil’s sustainability program “Soy Plus”, developed by the Association of Mato Grosso Soy and Corn Producers (Aprosoja) and the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries (Aboive).

“With this signature, Soy Plus becomes recognized as a sustainable production program, meaning, it now has a passport into the European market,” said Endrigo Dalcin, president of Aprosoja in the Mato Grosso state.

Mato Grosso produces more soy from Brazil than any other state. Located in the Central West region of Brazil, Mato Grosso only uses 7.6 percent of its territory for agricultural purposes, maintaining 64 percent of its land intact. The state covers 906,807 square kilometers, an area larger than the entire country of France. 

Mato Grosso is also the first state to implement Soy Plus and has grown in the last five years by 78 percent in participant numbers. The state currently has 1,087 soy producers in the sustainability program, and hopes to get to 1,300 farmers by the end of 2017. The program has since spread to other soy-producing states, including Mato Grosso do Sul, Bahia, and Minas Gerais.

The European side of the accord was signed by Fediol, the European Federation of Vegetable Oil and Proteins. Fediol’s President Henri Rieux celebrated the accord as a step forward in Brazil’s sustainable soy production as well as its acceptance in the European market. “We believe this improved dialogue will have a positive impact and will allow us to better understand the needs of the interested parties in Europe,” said Rieux.

According to Brazil’s Secretariat of External Commerce (Secex), 21.66 percent of Mato Grosso’s soy products were exported to Europe in 2016, up 57.9 percent from earlier years. Also in 2016, Mato Grosso’s biggest European soy consumer was Spain, with 912,663 tons. Following close behind was Holland, with 826,466 tons of imported soy, and then Norway, with 281,897 tons.

Before the E.U. signed onto the sustainable soy MoU, China’s Soybean Industry Association (CSIA) was the first to do so. The Chinese agricultural entity includes 700 partners, including rural producers, processors, and traders.

Soy Plus works to improve the social, work, and environmental conditions on the soy farms. Partner farms go through a certification program which involves a production training with support by the Mato Grosso branch of the National Service of Rural Apprenticeship, Senar. One major factor behind this improvement is limiting water use. Agriculture continues to consume the most water across all sectors. As Brazil’s population continues to grow, the food and water demand will only stretch tighter.