Title : Food production x irrigation x natural resources in Brazil: Successful case and challenges for environmental sustainability
Brazil is a country with a strong vocation for agriculture, owing to its abundance of the two main inputs needed to produce plant protein, namely sun and water. Tropical weather, high solar intensity and large extent of fertile soils are the ideal conditions for producing food at a low cost. Such conditions enabled Brazil to largely increase its food production to supply the world and resulted in two distinct consequences: increased yield per unit of area and increased physical farming areas, pressuring the occupation of part of forest areas. This study presents a synthesis of priority strategic macro-actions that should be adopted in Brazil in order to increase the production of food at a low cost, alongside the best development manner, environmental sustainability and preservation. The basis for this study was an actual success case of introducing irrigation in citrus grown for processing, which resulted in increased yield along with high environmental sustainability. The citrus planted area has been reduced to half its extent in the last fifteen years, but the same yield was maintained thanks to the increment brought by irrigation. Since the goal for our citriculture is a two-fold yield increase in the next ten years, there is a need to considerably increase the water availability to make new irrigated areas productive and to maintain the environmental sustainability. This study compares and prioritizes the main strategic macro-actions adopted to produce food in Brazil and is aimed at serving as an example to all other developing countries with tropical weather, enabling increased food production at a low cost and eliminating world hunger, improving the quality of life of the population and guaranteeing the preservation of the environment with high environmental sustainability. The result of this study sets the order of importance of the priority strategic macro-actions for Brazilian agriculture to increase its food production at a low cost, by prioritizing the increase in yield per unit of area in rainfed areas, then the increment in yield brought by irrigation, and lastly the physical expansion of agriculture into forest areas, with the adoption of existing legal measures and the recommendation of improvement to guarantee the environmental preservation and sustainability, for those three scenarios.