Brazil is set to become the world’s No. 2 corn exporter, displacing Argentina where a drought is expected to slash the harvest, data from the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed Feb. 10.
Brazil already produces more than twice as much corn as its southern neighbour but uses most of it domestically, as livestock feed for its huge beef sector. Its exports in the 2008-09 season are expected to reach 10 million tonnes, compared with seven million in Argentina.
USDA estimated Argentina’s harvest, still in development, would plunge to 13.5 million tonnes in 2008-09 from 20.9 million tonnes in the preceding 2007-08 season because of the dry weather.
Dry conditions also affected farms in southern Brazil near the border with Argentina. Production there is due to fall to 49.5 million tonnes this season from 58.6 million tonnes in 2007-08.
But Brazil, hitherto the No. 3 exporter of corn globally, has large residual stocks of the grain from last season which the Agriculture Ministry estimates at 10 million tonnes.
Argentina’s shipments may also be bridled by a suspension of export licences while it evaluates domestic cereal needs before resuming sales abroad.
Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry expects internal corn consumption to rise to 46.7 million tonnes this season, compared to 44.5 million in 2007-08, and forecasts exports at around nine million tonnes.