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Coffee remains a profitable crop in Bahia despite lower international prices

Soy, Corn, Cotton and Coffee irrigated plantations shared by countless farms in the western part of the state of Bahia (source: PBS Learning Media)

Coffee remains a remunerative crop in north-eastern Brazil, despite the current scenario of low international prices. According to reports, coffee growers in the state of Bahia are still finding coffee more profitable than other cash crops, such as soy, even in the current scenario of reasonably high international prices for soy and low values for coffee.

“Coffee is what provides the largest return,” said in an interview with Reuters Glauber de Castro, one of the owners at Fazenda Cafe do Rio Branco, a family-owned agricultural company managing 500 hectares of Arabica coffee and 200 hectares of soybeans in Luis Eduardo Magalhaes, Bahia state.

He said both coffee and soy should have good yields this year, due to favourable weather, after a couple of years of poor climate that was never fully offset by irrigation.

Castro estimates coffee yields to jump to 47 60-kg bags this year from 33 bags in 2017, as soy productivity also reaches high levels.

The western part of the Bahia state was once considered unsuitable for coffee growing.

That has changed since the introduction of wide-scale irrigation systems started a decade ago. Thanks to the region’s flat fields harvesting is fully mechanized, thus lowering costs.

Caetano de Carvalho Berlatto, a coffee producer in the neighbouring town of Sao Desiderio, has reported a peak yield of 60 bags per hectare, double the national average.

He works with two large irrigation systems in the 200 hectares where Arabica coffee plantations were set up.