Sun. Feb 28th, 2021

In the far west of Brazil’s Bahia state, sprawling soybean plantations extend from the edges of the highways right up to the horizon. The region is considered Brazil’s new grain frontier, its roads bustling with trucks hauling agrochemicals, cattle, and tons of soybeans. The 2019-2020 harvest was the second best in the history of Bahia: more than 6 million tons of soybeans were produced in the state. That kind of output has attracted major companies such as SLC Agrícola, one of the largest grain producers in Brazil. During the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, in mid-June, SLC CEO Aurélio Pavinato said that “the role of agribusiness is to produce food in sustainable ways.” But just months earlier, between January and March, his company deforested ​​5,200 hectares (12,850 acres) of the Cerrado savanna in Bahia, an area larger than 5,000 football fields. In October of this year, another 4,000 hectares (nearly 10,000 acres) burned in the same area. The NGO Chain Reaction Research, which monitors the global agricultural commodities market, detected the deforestation and burning through satellite monitoring. The destruction was centered at the Parceiro farm in the town of Formosa do Rio Preto — itself the heart of the deforestation in the entire Cerrado. Part of the farm’s area, currently used for growing soybeans, was the subject of a brazen land-grabbing scheme that was investigated by law enforcers. The story is illustrative of the power of agribusiness in the Brazilian savanna, which has an impact across a…This article was originally published on Mongabay
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