December 5, 2018 / 2:13 PM / 5 days ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil could open up 43 mln hectares of new agricultural land - SLC

(Adds details from executive’s presentation, quotes)

SAO PAULO, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Brazil, which accounts for some 7 percent of the world’s grain output, has potential to expand arable land for agriculture on an estimated 43 million hectares in the vast central Cerrado region, a grain producing company said on Wednesday.

Aurélio Pavinato, chief executive of Brazilian grain producer SLC Agrícola SA, told an industry event that such an area could be used to increase grains and sugarcane output in the South American nation. Brazil is expected to account for about 18 percent of the global grains exports in the 2018/19 season.

The country is poised to produce 235 million tonnes of grains in the present cycle, with grain exports forecast to reach 107 million tonnes, Pavinato said, citing USDA data.

According to the executive, farmers in the United States plant around 100 million hectares with grains, while Brazil’s total is around 46 million hectares.

“Expanding agricultural production would demand heavy investments,” he said, without elaborating on the actual costs.

Brazil has about 180 million hectares of pasture land, and parts of it could be converted into arable land, which would add to the land area given over to grain production without either harming the environment or using conservation areas, he said.

“Brazil could free up to 70 million hectares of pasture land for agriculture in the space of between 30 or 40 years,” Pavinato said. (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Daniel Flynn and Frances Kerry)

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