Regional Shifts in Brazilian Sugarcane Production: Why Sugarcane Migrated South
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe Brazilian experiment with sugar cane began in Northeastern Brazil during the earliest days of the colonial period. Its cultivation followed the extension of the Portuguese Royal Authority to the present day state of Bahia and the founding of the city of Salvador in 1549. Salvador Bahia became the center of a very complex production and commercialization system that supplies sugar to regional, national and international markets. In 1980, Brazil overtook India as the top global sugarcane producer, title which it holds to this day. Sugar cane’s versatility as a sweetener and a source of ethanol propelled its comeback to the helm of sugarcane producers. . Some of this success is due to the Brazilian government’s support for viable fuel alternatives following the oil shocks of 1973. Naturally, one would assume that in its pursuit to recapture the world market Brazil would have relied on the Northeast’s tradition in sugar production. The statistics, however, indicate that sometime in the 1960s a regional shift occurred. São Paulo is now the leader in sugar production. My research examines the question of how the Northeastern region lost its leadership to São Paulo, a state without any significant history in sugar production. For this research, I employ a mixed-methods approach. I combine historical production data from several reputable governmental and private sources with information compiled during in-depth literature review and an interview with an individual knowledgeable about the circumstances of the local sugar industry. I examine the role that environment, globalization, and technological advances have played in the regional shift of Brazil’s sugar production.
Degree ProgramHonors College