Weather challenges in the region, called Matopiba after the first two letters of Maranhao, Tocantins, Piaui and Bahia states, shouldn’t have flabbergasted farmers and investors. What’s been surprising is the voracious appetite for planting there.
Agrifirma Brazil, the well-connected farmland investment company, is investigating opportunities outside South America after placing most of its Brazilian agriculture operations into a joint venture with private equity heavyweight.
While Brazil touts its efforts to slow destruction of the Amazon, another biodiverse region of the country is being cleared for large-scale farming. But unlike the heralded rainforest it borders, the loss of the cerrado and its rich tropical savanna so far has failed to attract much notice.
“It’s not common in Brazil to find farmers presenting accounts to international investors. What you can see here is the new model for agribusiness in Brazil,” says André Pessôa, co-ordinator of the Rally da Safra.
While everyone from the Rothschild’s – via the Agrifirma Brazil fund, run with Jim Slater – through to Nicola Horlick and UBS are snapping up farmland in Brazil, I’m fascinated by another niche: Canada and New Zealand.
Soros recently became the largest shareholder in Adecoagro one of the leading agribusiness companies in South America whose main activities are the production of grains, rice, oilseed, dairy products, sugar, ethanol, coffee, cotton and cattle meat.