Thursday, 29 March 2012

March 25 - Beef, coffee, dairy

After a hard day of travel before, we ended up in Sao Jose do Rio Preto which is in the central south of Brazil - 500km inland from Rio de Janeiro. This is a city of approx 11 million.
Our first visit was to a small family farm where innovative farming methods are being introduced. This enterprise only has 120 hectares but supports 3 families comfortably. Some beef cattle and coffee however the main point of difference is they have added irrigation to the local 1700mm of rain which falls in the wet season of approx 4 months. This increases pasture feed, therefore milk production. This photo shows fully grown dairy cows at the end of the wet season in incredibly tall grass.
We cut some cattle pasture and within 30 minutes it had grown about 1 cm!
This enterprise has also upgraded cattle genetics and improved pastures. There is a government based support system which assists small scale farmers to improve productivity. This farm is used as a showcase/training property to promote national producivity increase.
Brazil still imports most of its milk requirements. We visited another 2 small family farms, mostly dairy. These farms have in my opinion, a very appealing lifestyle characterized by large family involvement on small scale farms. It is common for farms of approx 100 ha to support 3-4 family groups.
Land is so productive, having 1500-1800mm of rain in the wet season. These people are able to make a comparatively good income, running around 120 cows, some beef cattle and some sugar cane or coffee.They also seem to be largely self sufficient with chickens, pigs and a bounty of tropical fruit and veg. People are well dressed and have good quality vehicles and machinery.   This is a photo of a farming family who hosted us.
We then drove a couple hours to check into our hotel in Santa Fee do Sulk. This photo shows a rural Brazilian street scene.

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