Brazil, phosphate mines, phosphate mines
Dario Lopez-Mills/AP
A worker washes coffee beans at a plantation near the town of Pocos de Caldas, Brazil.

Brazil to Reclaim Fertilizer Deposits Licensed to Foreign Companies

December 05, 2008 12:59 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
Foreign companies that haven’t adequately invested in phosphate and certain other mineral deposits in Brazil will lose their rights to them.

Brazil Plans to Become Self-Sufficient in Fertilizer

As Brazil moves toward becoming self-sufficient in fertilizer by 2010, officials there are preparing to revoke licenses of foreign companies who haven’t used their rights to explore deposits of phosphates and other materials in the country.

“If the company doesn’t explore the concession, the government takes it back,” Agriculture Minister Reinhold Stephanes said in a Bloomberg article.

Rising fertilizer prices have forced local farmers to reduce fertilizer use in Brazil. The global economic situation has put a crunch on farmers who need to finance their fertilizer purchases, the Los Angeles Times explained.

If farmers continue using less fertilizer, the country could see a 2.7 percent reduction in soybean output, a 7.3 percent drop in its corn crop and a 26 percent decline in its coffee output. Brazil is the largest coffee grower in the world, according to Bloomberg.

Already, coffee crops in Brazil are at 50-year lows, the LA Times stated.

Brazil’s Other Self-Sufficient Industries

Self-sufficiency is nothing new for Brazil. During recent years, the country has declared its self-sufficiency in a handful of industries, and expressed hope to become self-sufficient in others.


In 2006, Brazil achieved a goal of energy self-sufficiency with the development of a sizeable ethanol industry, according to the International Herald Tribune. The discovery of a substantial oil field pushed the country closer toward becoming an important oil exporter “because part of the gasoline [the country requires] is going to be displaced by oil,” a Petrobras executive explained.

Earlier in 2008, the country discovered a new gas field. One energy official said if the field met expectations, it could make Brazil self-sufficient in natural gas as well.


In 2003, Brazil became self-sufficient in milk production. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reported that the growth in the sector left the country with a great potential for new jobs.

Related Topic: The trouble with credit

The fact that Brazil’s farmers are struggling to get the money they need for fertilizer to help crop yields has other consequences: “more food, not less, is needed around the world,” Dow Jones Newswires explained, and the decline in farming could prove to be a drag on Brazil’s economy. “Every company is trying to secure as much cash as it can [to withstand] the longer-term effects of the credit crisis,” Stefano Rettore, general manager at CHS Brazil, a grain-trading company, explained. 

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