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Cattle Guardian Programme Combats Deforestation

19 March 2010

BRAZIL - By the end of this year, 110,000 cattle farms in the Brazilian state of Para will employ satellite monitoring through the national Cattle Guardian Programme (Programa Boi Guardiao) introduced in December 2009.

This initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture aims to reduce Amazon deforestation caused by cattle ranching. Since the end of 2009, the project has monitored approximately 15,000 properties in six municipalities in Para, where nearly four million cattle are raised.

Under the Cattle Guardian Programme, electronic permits for animal transit (GTA) will only be issued on the condition that cattle are raised in non-deforested areas.

The verification is monitored through satellite surveillance. GTA permits include information on sanitation and are mandatory for the transport of animals between properties, municipalities, states, slaughterhouses, or to other countries for export. By the end of 2010, the programme will monitor the entire states of Para, Rondonia, and the Amazon region within the state of Mato Grosso. With over 18 million cattle heads, Para is the fifth largest cattle producer in the country.

In the years from 1975-2008, Brazil's agricultural productivity growth rates averaged 3.66 per cent, ahead of China (3.20 per cent), Australia (2.12 per cent) and the United States (1.95 per cent), according to a study prepared by the Brazilian Office of Strategic Management within the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply.

Brazil's strong agricultural performance was driven by genetic technologies and the introduction of new cultivars that yielded higher productivity in key commodities such as soybeans, corn, coffee, sugarcane, meat, fruit and vegetable products. Sugarcane yields grew from 49 tons per hectare to 80 tons per hectare in a ten-year period. Corn productivity reached 12 tons per hectare and soybeans six tons per hectare. The production of beef, which yielded 11 kg of carcase per hectare in 1997, rose to 39 kg in 2008. Poultry productivity rose dramatically from 373,000 tons in 1975 to 10 million tons in 2008.

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