The waters of the São Francisco River arrive in Ceará bringing more than the guarantee of supply for human consumption in a period of drought. The local agribusiness also celebrates and will be effectively benefited, opening the possibility of expansion of production. According to the executive secretary of agribusiness of the Secretariat of Economic Development and Labor of the State (Sedet), Sílvio Carlos Ribeiro, Ceará has the potential to quadruple the irrigated area, totaling 300,000 hectares.
- Águas do Velho Chico are just beginning their journey through Ceará
- "They say he's going to the capital," says farmer as he observes the arrival of San Francisco waters
Currently, according to Ribeiro, there are only 70,000 hectares used. With more water resources available, production growth is natural. "It is a historic and important moment for the economy. Until today, we had the need to have water security for various sectors of the economy. Since 2012, when we began to face this unprecedented drought, agribusiness has come with this concern. This new availability of water allows to make an investment, develop the irrigated area, knowing that it will be possible to produce for two, five, ten years. It's a greater comfort," he says.
In addition to the irrigated area itself, Ceará has differentials that should also attract more investors going forward, including export-friendly logistics conditions and certifications of pest-free areas, in addition to the current exchange rate behavior and the opening of international markets for Brazilian production.
In view of this, fruit growing should be one of the activities most benefited from transposition. Because it has higher added value than grains, for example, and good acceptance in the foreign market, fruits become the focus of business. With higher value products, the participation of agribusiness in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ceará can grow at an even greater pace than the irrigated area.
"If we only double the current irrigated area to 140,000 hectares, only with fruit growing, the agricultural GDP will be much higher than if we kept the existing crops," Ribeiro said.
With the availability of water resources, new crops can be grown in Ceará soil, today very concentrated only in melon and watermelon, in addition to ensuring the production of permanent crops, such as bananas and oranges.
"Having this water security, we can diversify the fruits in the state. And even when there's little rain, we won't have to stop planting like before. Other markets are opening up, such as China for melon. If we start exporting there, we will have to have more area", points out Luiz Roberto Barcelos, institutional director of the Brazilian Association of Exporting Producers of Fruits and Derivatives (Abrafrutas).
He also points out that crops with higher added value and the possibility of giving more consistent returns will be the main beneficiaries due to the high cost for the use of the waters of the São Francisco River. "Several sectors will benefit, including livestock with food for livestock. Fruit growing will undoubtedly benefit greatly", points out Barcelos.
The Executive Secretary of Agribusiness of the State also cites shrimp and tilapia production as activities to be driven by the new water condition of Ceará; the first already in full expansion, and the second, impaired by the low capacity of the state's reservoirs.
"In addition, we still have the Malha D'Água program, which will offer water in pipelines to nine municipalities in the Banabuiú region, leaving important reservoirs free for agriculture. In the case of those who used transposition waters, because it is an expensive water, we are still developing a work, in partnership with the World Bank, to bring more efficiency in the use of water resources within the properties", reveals Ribeiro.
The president of the Agribusiness Sector Chamber of the Development Agency of the State of Ceará (Adece), José Amilcar Silveira, also recalls the benefits of Transposition for milk production, which, despite the conditions, has been developing with speed.
"In the case of agriculture, production in The Jaguaribe Low, which may benefit from the project, will triple. We can reach 30,000 hectares of fruit in that region, which would represent 30,000 new direct jobs," he says.
Silveira also says he is satisfied if the waters of The San Francisco are directed totally to human use in Fortaleza, since the other reservoirs would become available entirely for irrigation. "It's already a fantastic gain. And it would be better for us. Consumers can afford this more expensive water," he says.
The institutional director of Abrafrutas, Barcelos, also points out that the concern of water being restricted to human consumption is limited, considering that, in any case, more water resources will be available.
"We have been talking to the Government and our intention is to increase the grant granted to the northern stretch, which serves Ceará. The Sobradinho reservoir is almost completely full, raising the level of San Francisco. I think we got more water."
Ceará's agricultural sector celebrates the arrival of the waters of the Transposition of the São Francisco River. It is expected that activity will have great advances in production, crop diversity, export and jobs
Source: Trade Diary