Brazil Native Gets Firsthand Look at Severe Flooding in Rio Grande do Sul

A group of undergraduate students studying agricultural economics took a trip to Brazil. Joanna Colussi of the Farmdoc team made the trip. Colussi, a Brazil native, says she saw catastrophic flooding during a tour of Rio Grande do Sul.

She says, “It is a very sad situation in my home state, Rio Grande do Sul, in the south of Brazil. The impact of flooding has been catastrophic, with at least 150 lives lost and over 100 individuals still missing. In addition, more than 800 people have been injured, and over 500,000 people have been forced to flee their homes. It’s compared to Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005.”

Rio Grande do Sul is one of the most important states in Brazil for soybean production. Colussi says, “The inundated state of Rio Grande do Sul is one of the biggest soybean-producing regions in Brazil, and it’s also Brazil’s main rice growing area. Both crops are expected to suffer from the historic flooding. According to preliminary reports, around three million metric tons of soybeans may have been lost in Rio Grande do Sul. It means three percent of the national soybean production, estimated at 146 million metric tons by the National Supply Company Conab. The losses in rice should reduce the national production by 20 percent.”

The flooding hit at the wrong time for Brazilian producers according to Colussi. She says, “Rio Grande do Sul was after the end of the crop season when the flooding started at the beginning of May, with a quarter of the fields remaining to be harvested. Some crops will rot and be lost. Others will have lower yields than expected. The state of Rio Grande to do Sul had been counting on that record harvest of 22 million tons of soybeans this year. Despite the extreme weather, the soybean production in Brazil’s southernmost state could still reach almost 20 million tons.”

She also says the losses in rice will reduce the national production by 20 percent. The flooding is expected to have a smaller impact on corn because farmers in Rio Grande do Sul typically don’t plant a second corn crop because of the weather.

Story courtesy of NAFB News Service and Todd Gleason, WILL/University of Illinois