Brazil bets on the production of vegetables, a segment marked by its diversity and presence in the whole Country.
Marked by a great variety of items and by its cultivation all over the regions, the vegetable segment - also known as horticulture sector- stands as an excellent source of income. Most varieties normally have a short cycle, providing rapid investment returns, and demand over the different seasons of the year require careful planning of this activity. On the other hand, even not taken as commodities (like commercial grain crops), vegetables and legumes enjoy a reputation for being absolutely indispensable on the kitchen table.
Looking toward a promising future, Brazil projects new investments and tries to lend more support to this segment, a strong job generator and characterized by excellent income distribution. The concern is justified by virtue of declining domestic consumption over the past years. The picture is mainly a result from falling purchasing power and from some changes in eating habits. At the production sector, on the other hand, technological modernization and ever-improving quality levels give Brazil a chance to venture into the foreign market, even as a manner of making up for the retraction in the domestic market.
The biggest preoccupation now is the revival of the business inside the Country. Marketing campaigns aimed at providing higher visibility, focused on the nutritional value of vegetables might turn out the best manner to boost consumption. At least this is the opinion of Paulo César Tavares de Melo, president of the Brazilian Horticulture Society (ABH) - former Brazilian Olericulture Society. Founded 45 years ago, the organ now congregates some 600 members, including producers, companies, institutions and leaderships of the segment, and is fully dedicated to spreading information related to the cultivation and marketing of vegetables.
JOB AND INCOME The production of vegetables assumes an enormous economic and social role in Brazil. According to the president of ABH, Paulo César Tavares de Melo, the sector moves some R$ 12 billion a year, cultivating approximately 778 thousand hectares, with an estimated harvest volume of 16 million tons, from data released in the year 2000.
On the other hand, horticulture is marked by the intense use of labor: three to six professionals are employed per hectare, with the generation of the same number of indirect positions. "This means that 8 to 10 million people derive their livelihood from vegetables", Melo exemplifies.
He also points to one more characteristic of this activity: its presence on small-scale farms. "Around 60% of the production takes place on small, less than 10-hectare farms, where family farming predominates, frequently located on the outer green belts of big cities", he comments. "The other 40% come from medium and big farms, already inserted into a commercial context".
Former president of ABH for two terms, Rumy Goto, professor of the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences at the São State University (Unesp), in Botucatu, highlights that horticulture is practiced in strongly established belts across the whole Country. However, it is the Southeast that predominates, accounting for almost 70% of the cultivated area. Rumy also stresses the ever-increasing importance of traceability as a tool for the big marketing chains, because discerning consumers want to know the origin of the food they consume.
Data de Publicação: 08/03/2006 Fonte: Revista AgroBrasil