If the Brazilian cotton harvest, just starting up in May, fulfills the latest official projections, Brazil will offer more cotton to the world than it ever has before – especially to Indonesia and Brazil’s other big customers in Asia.
According to Conab, a branch of the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry, Brazil’s 2010/11 cotton harvest will surpass two million tons for the first time ever (2.027 million tons, according to Conab’s April projection). That will shatter the previous record of 1.6 million tons of cotton produced by Brazilian farmers in 2007/08.
Such a level of production would amount to a 70% increase over Brazil’s previous cotton crop (2009/10), which came in just short of 1.2 million tons. The projected increase of more than 800,000 tons in just one year is greater than Brazil’s entire cotton crop of nine years ago.
With Brazil’s own cotton consumption estimated to be about 1.1 million tons, can Brazil’s already overburdened transportation infrastructure be expected to handle a record of nearly one million tons of cotton for export? The bottlenecks in roads and at the shipping port of Santos are infamous.
One promising new development designed to relieve some of Brazil’s transportation bottlenecks – and to reduce shipping costs – is the upgrading of facilities at the Port of Salvador, including dredging, road improvement, and expansion of container handling. Located 1,500 km north of Santos, the Port of Salvador is an ideally-situated shipping point for cotton produced in Bahia, Brazil’s number-two state in cotton production. Conab projects Bahia’s production to exceed 600,000 tons, second only to Mato Grosso’s projection of a little more than one million tons.