Farmers in the north and northeast of Brazil are expecting to expand their soya fields at the fastest rate in four years, Reuters reported on 16 September.

The farmers in those regions, which are dominated by the Amazon rainforest and Cerrado savannah, were set to expand their soya fields by more than 6% in the 2020/21 crop season.

Separate forecasts from consultancies Arc Mercosul and AgRural showed that in percentage terms, the regions would be the fastest growing in the whole country for soya. Both firms forecast the regions would add more than 350,000ha this crop season.

The soya fields would expand into newly deforested areas, previously created pastures, and marginal lands, the consultancies said.

According to environmentalists, replacing vegetation with farm fields would raise greenhouse gas emissions and hasten climate change. However, farmers said that Brazilian law allowed them to deforest a certain percentage of their land, which varied by region.

US soyabean future prices reached a two-year high on Wednesday 16 September due to demand from China and financial funds, Reuters said.

Brazilian farmers selling in the real currency were benefiting from its weakness against the dollar, and had already pre-sold around 50% of the 2020/2021 crop, according to the news agency.

“With these prices, the area will grow wherever it can,” AgRural analyst Adriano Gome was reported as saying.

AgRural was projecting the soya-growing area in the north and northeast to increase by 6.4%, while Arc Mercosul was expecting 6.8% growth.

The centre-west, which includes top producing state Mato Grosso, was predicted to add the most area in absolute terms, growing by 2.8% or 463,000ha.