AUSTRALIA may look at the insane growth statistics coming out of Asia in terms of grain consumption and think it is sitting pretty, but other key grain production zones have ambitions to break into the market as well.
Speaking at the recent Global Grains Asia conference in Singapore, Frederico Humberg, general manager at Gavilon Brazil, said Brazil’s growing grain production meant eventually there could be a further 40 million tonnes of grain to export from the South American nation.
He said in particular the popularity of the "safrinha" or second corn crop, grown in rotation with soybeans, was increasing total production.
He said there was significant land suitable for cropping available, with grain production taking over from cattle producing land.
Investment is coming not only from traditional agriculturalists, but from financial groups and funds.
Mr Humberg said Brazil would be particularly strong in oilseeds, with farmers at present finding soybeans the most profitable crop.
However, countering that, Mr Humberg said Brazil’s supply chain was not functioning efficiently, causing massive backlogs at port.
He told stories of traffic snarls snaking back 100 kilometres from port as trucks attempted to deliver grain to ports and boats queued up at sea for 14km.
Although the Black Sea nations are currently in crisis, James Dunsterville, AgFlow, said overall Black Sea exports were rising as Russia and the Ukraine in particular became more sophisticated with their supply chain.
“Rail and road infrastructure is very poor, but it is not too bad in terms of exporting grain.”
In North America, Wes Uhlmeyer, export trading manager with ADM, said this year’s US crop was looking reasonable.
He said his organisation was predicting a swing into soybeans following corn-on-corn rotations, but said if the weather was good, there would not be markedly lower corn production.
Mr Uhlmeyer said some area coming out of the US Government’s conservation reserve program meant more acres could be planted.
In Canada, he said grain industry leaders were working to correct the supply chain meltdown that was causing lengthy delays out of Pacific ports which service Asia.
“It was a perfect storm in Canada this year, a big production year and horrible weather," Mr Uhlmeyer said.
“It has not been good, but I think it will fix itself a lot quicker than Brasil.”
Mr Dunsterville threw up another potential exporting area from left-field.
“China has invested a lot in Africa, the biggest single investor in Africa in the last 100 years.”
He said it would take some time before it would make sense on a purely commercial stage to export from Africa, but said China had different investment priorities, such as food security.
Nations like South Africa and Zimbabwe have suitable land for large scale corn production, he said, while other untapped nations with good arable land include Uganda, which has recently resolved its civil war.
“The Japanese used to love Zimbabwean corn, so it can be done, but as we saw in Ukraine, it can take a long time to get things running smoothly again.”
However, Mr Dunsterville said China understood that with continued expansion of demand, new sources would have to be found and Africa could play a role in the long-term.