Sugarcane ethanol production in Brazil: An expansion model sensitive to socioeconomic and environmental concerns
Journal article, 2007
Brazilan agriculture is characteristically dynamic, land and production resources have a skewed ownership distribution, and agricultural production is essential for small holders of rural poor regions. Also, the main agricultural land use is composed of pastures where extensive livestock production prevails. Because of increasing demand Brazil is expected to expand its sugarcane based ethanol production. Addressing concerns about social and environmental impacts of such an expansion requires careful consideration of the complexity of Brazilian agriculture in general and specific local conditions in particular. This paper outlines an expansion model for sugarcane ethanol production that is sensitive to socioeconomic and environmental concerns. Through integration with the prevailing land use, the model avoids the usual displacement of extensive livestock production to remote regions, causing leakage effects with deforestation, promotes milk and beef cattle intensification, and investment opportunities for local society. The expansion model is feasible at current market conditions and should have good prospects for complying with sustainability criteria within various certification schemes presently under development. A case study, developed in the Pontal do Paranapanema region (State of São Paulo, Brazil) illustrates the model in agrarian reform settlements.