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Brazil is expected to slow its expansion of soyabean planting in 2022/23, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Published on 13 April by the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN), the Oilseeds and Products Annual (Brazil) forecasts that Brazilian producers will expand soyabean planted area to 42.5M ha hectares in 2022/23, compared to the estimated 40.7M ha planted the previous season. This represented a 0.5% year-on-year increase, down from last year’s 3.8% growth rate.

Soyabean production in 2022/23 – based on current market conditions and trends and assuming a return to normal weather conditions – is estimated at 139M tonnes, up from an estimated 124.8M tonnes this season, according to the report.

However, the Russia/Ukraine conflict and resulting fertiliser supply concerns could impact expansion, the report said.

“To support its massive oilseed production sector, Brazil relies on imported inputs, including fertilisers. Soyabeans are the top consumer of fertilisers in Brazil, using 40% of the total supply,” the report said.

According to national fertiliser association ANDA, Brazil imports around 85% of its total fertiliser needs, at a total value of around US$8bn. The main exporters are Russia, Canada, China and Morocco.

The disruption in global fertiliser supply was due to production bottlenecks owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, protectionist trade measures by leading producers and geopolitical tensions, the report said.

However, the potential risk of fertiliser disruption to Brazil had risen “substantially” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

“Russia is a leading global supplier of fertilisers, and Brazil sources about a quarter of its fertilisers from Russia,” the USDA said.

The USDA expected Brazilian growers would continue to use seed and crop protection technology in a bid to maintain yields across the oilseed spectrum and compensate for anticipated reductions in fertiliser use, the report said.

Looking ahead, the USDA did not forecast a severe downturn in global demand for soyabeans due to the Russia/Ukraine war.

“Unlike a multitude of other sectors, soyabean consumption has limited elasticity. In China and Europe – key soyabean importers – despite economic uncertainty, meat consumption is not expected to suffer a dramatic downturn. China is expected to remain the top importer of Brazilian soyabeans,” the report said.