In 10 years, crop and pasture areas in Minas Gerais increased by 25%, according to data from the State Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Seapa), a good part of that in pasture areas, but an important amount advancing over native forests or in regeneration, especially in the cerrado. According to the Minas Gerais State Secretariat for the Environment and Sustainable Development (Semad), since 2017, on average, 11,740 hectares of cerrado have been lost in the state, and in 2021 the area burned or deforested reached 15,322 hectares, space 30.5% higher than the average of recent years. And a decision in the hands of the State Council for Environmental Policy (Copam) can cause a new leap in the loss of this biome.
In yesterday’s edition, a report from the State of Minas showed how Brazil’s vocation for food production brought a shock to the environmental sector, especially in Minas Gerais, where environmental licensing processes for enterprises in the agriculture and livestock sector are multiplying. One of the exponents of this clash between agribusiness and conservation is the request for deforestation from Fazenda Novo Buriti, in Bonito de Minas, in the north of the state, which is still being processed at Copam, an instance in which there were heated discussions about devastation, water security and sustainability.
Owned by BrasilAgro, the farm was acquired 14 years ago to raise cattle and plant grain. The company intends to deforest 10,300 hectares (one-third of the area of Belo Horizonte), almost the average cerrado that Minas Gerais as a whole loses every year since 2017. biome currently has 12,023,344.8 hectares of remaining vegetation, occupying 37.8% of the total area of the state.
The Novo Buriti Farm licensing process has been under way since the meeting held on March 22. This is a request, made by a counselor to the environmental agency, for information, measures or clarifications on the matter under discussion. “The environmental agency itself must clarify the doubts and information that were not clear in the process and return to the Council for consideration with the necessary clarifications. There is no set deadline for returning the analysis. The Chamber meetings are held monthly”, informed the Secretary of State for the Environment.
Environmentalist Samuel Leite Caetano, from the Center for Alternative Agriculture in the North of Minas (CAA), is one of those who consider it worrying that the farm should be given a license to clear the savannah. “It is an intervention in a semi-arid area in the process of desertification, where many rivers that were perennial are drying up. These are communities that have already suffered from environmental degradation at the time of the Pr Vrzea program, in the 1970s, which drained the paths and created scarcity. The farm area is still a region that has surface water. Even the benefits of jobs will not outweigh the impact of deforestation on veredeiras communities. It would be necessary to listen more to these communities. There, we have a mosaic of conservation units and ecologically linked areas. Such a project would accelerate desertification,” he considers.
BrasilAgro’s CEO, Andr Guillaumon, says that the environmental benefits that the farm will provide will extend to nearby areas, such as a park and protection areas, with the company’s fire-fighting teams working, which usually also work outside the limits. of their properties in large fires. He also informs that the company will preserve twice the required area of legal reserve, which is 7,000 hectares, and that it is willing to create a private reserve of natural heritage. “In addition, we will generate employment and income, generate taxes. Today, we take care of 170 thousand agricultural hectares with science and technology. It’s not worth looking at the past and thinking it’s worth it for now. This will throw all Embrapa’s work in the trash. We have sustainability as our objective, with our own bioinsecticides and biofungicides biofactories, for example,” said the executive.
Undersecretary for Agricultural Policy and Economics, Joo Ricardo Albanez, states that the impacts of expanding food-generating activities in Minas Gerais have been controlled by the adoption of techniques that increase the productivity of current plantation areas, reducing the need for deforestation. In the specific case of grains such as corn, soybeans, sorghum, beans and sunflower, productivity rose from 3 tons per hectare to 3.9 in the last decade, he says. “There was an increase in the area, but it increased productivity and that is very significant. Grain production grew by 48% in 10 years, while the area increased by 25%,” says Albanez.
Another factor that the undersecretary highlights is the growth in production of the second crop in Minas, which makes it possible to plant two crops without increasing the cultivated area. (MP)