SAO PAULO – Brazil, one of the world’s main food producers, will have a reduced harvest in 2018 after record crop production in 2017, according to a forecast released Thursday by the government.
Production of grains, legumes and oilseed crops in 2017 totaled 240.6 million tons, according to the government, a 29.5 percent increase over 2016.
But this year, the state-run Brazilian Geography and Statistics Institute (IBGE) estimates that crop yields will fall by a total of 16.3 million tons to 224.3 million tons due to reduced corn, soybean and rice production, these being Brazil’s main crops.
Corn production is predicted to drop by 15.1 percent this year to 84.5 million tons, while the soybean harvest is anticipated to come in at 2.4 percent less than in 2017, some 112.3 million tons, and rice production will fall off by 5.9 percent to 117.7 million tons, IBGE said.
According to the latest projections, Brazil last year broke the crop production record of 209.7 million tons set in 2015 and the land under cultivation increased by 7.2 percent to 61.2 million hectares (about 153 million acres).
Corn, rice and soybeans represent 94.4 percent of Brazilian production and take up 87.9 percent of its cultivated land.
The broad expansion of agricultural production in 2017 helped Brazil to register economic growth of about 1 percent after the deepest recession to hit the country in recent decades and two consecutive years of economic contraction: -3.5 percent in 2015 and -3.6 percent in 2016.
The increase in the agricultural harvest also contributed to the precipitous drop in food prices last year in Brazil and helped contain inflation in 2017, which was at its lowest level in almost 20 years.
Inflation was 2.95 percent in 2017, 3.34 percent below the 6.29 percent figure for the year before, and reflected the smallest increase in prices in Brazil since 1998, when it stood at 1.65 percent, according to IBGE.
Food and beverages, which consume one-quarter of average Brazilian family spending, showed their first annual drop since the implementation in 1994 of the Real Plan, a program launched by then-President Itamar Franco to end the hyperinflation that had been besetting the country.