From 1970 to 2012, there have been some general tendencies in Paranaense agriculture. I was particularly interested in the amount of land (measured in hectares) used to produce a crop and the amount of each crop produced (measured in tons).
The data was produced by the Secretaria de Agricultura e do Abastecimento (SEAB) and the Departamento de Economia Rural (DERAL) and was made available on the Paranaense government portal. Eighteen crops were considered significant. They are listed below:
- Cotton (bush and tree)
- Peanut (with shell)
- Rice (with shell)
- Oat (with husk)
- Potato (the sum of three harvests annually)
- Coffee (refined)
- Beans (the sum of three harvests annually)
- Tabaco (in sheets)
- Corn (the sum of two harvests annually)
- Soy (the sum of the regular harvest and interim harvest annually)
Certain crops such as soy and corn have become more popular, occupying more hectares relative to other crops. The amount of hectares sown with wheat has been extremely volatile during the time period. Farmers’ choice of sorghum experienced a jump during the middle of the period, but was relatively insignificant towards the beginning and end. Sugarcane has gradually occupied more hectares, but has lost relative importance to crops such as soy and corn. Beans and coffee have seen a relative decline in land used since 1970.
In general, the state of Paraná is more specialized agriculturally than it was in 1970. However, sixteen of the eighteen crops are still produced on a significant scale.
To put these changes in proper context, here is how land use increased per hectare during the years studied. The planting of soy is clearly occurring as the total area cultivated increases.
I next wanted to see if the production of each commodity experienced a similar trend. Below is a graph for the total production (measured in tons) for the aggregate of the eighteen commodities.
If we look at the production (measured in tons) per crop, a different reality emerges. Sugarcane emerges as selling the highest yield. Next corn and soy occupy their predictable places. A sizeable amount of manioc and wheat are also produced.
In general, Paranaense farmers today are more productive than they were in 1970. Although land use has increased, productivity has increased by a higher factor. In the interest of conserving the environment, the government may be able to provide economic incentives to cease the expansion of, or even revert, the agricultural frontier. This may be achieved with minimal losses in agricultural production (measured in tons). Higher efficiencies can be achieved with less land.
Another interesting note is that only two crops were essentially phased out of production – ricinus and sorghum. Neither of these crops are commonly used for human consumption. This may be an encouraging sign for food security in the state. It could be true that farmers still cultivate other crops for local consumption, while taking advantage of their competitive advantages to produce other crops for export (nationally and internationally).