Pastoral farming, papaws, manioc, sugar producers, Amazon region
Since the 1930s agriculture has declined in importance in the economy and employment. However, it still generates about one-third of export earnings. Brazil is one of the world’s largest coffee, soybean, and sugar producers. Soybeans have become an important crop since the 1970s, rivaling coffee as the leading agricultural export. Sugar output has more than doubled since 1975, partly to meet the demand for cane alcohol as a substitute for gasoline. Brazil is also one of the world’s largest producers of oranges, bananas, and papaws, a small tropical fruit. In terms of area cultivated, the leading crops are maize, soybeans, various other beans, rice, sugar, coffee, and manioc, or cassava. Pastoral farming is also important. There are 172 million head of cattle in Brazil; pigs, sheep, and goats are also important.
There has been considerable modernization in agriculture, through mechanization, the use of fertilizers and irrigation, and improvements in storage and transport. Settlements have advanced into the lands in the Center-west and the Amazon region, via planned settlement schemes and spontaneous colonization. This advance is partly a result of the displacement of farm workers by modernization. Brazil has a large number of landless rural dwellers, and the pattern of land ownership is very unequal. Around half of landholdings are less than 10 hectares (25 acres) in size, and they include only 2.5 percent of the farmed area. Farms in excess of 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) account for less than 1 percent of farms, but they control 45 percent of the land.
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