With an area a little smaller than Portugal, the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina occupies only 1.12% of the national territory. Well known for the beauty of its beaches, the state also has an outstanding role concerning agricultural and livestock production and exports, especially of animal protein. Holder of the largest pig herd in Brazil and second position in chicken meat exports, Santa Catarina was responsible for almost 5% of everything that Brazilian agribusiness traded abroad in 2022: US$ 7.85 billion.
Due to its relevance in the national agricultural and cattle-raising scenario, the state was chosen to welcome the 8th edition of the AgroBrazil project, an initiative of the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA) that brings foreign diplomats to learn about the reality of the country’s agricultural and cattle-raising production.
During one week, representatives from embassies visited some premises and learned about the production diversity in Santa Catarina and could talk personally with those who work in the field. Mariculture, viticulture, fruit production, dairy products, and grains: these were some of the sectors the visit encompassed, a visit that began in Florianópolis (the state’s capital) and covered the whole state, all the way to Chapecó, in the far west. Already on the first day, the visit to a sea farm that produces oysters was one of those that most drew the diplomats’ attention, due to the process of cultivation and the history of how Santa Catarina became responsible for 95% of the Brazilian production of mussels and oysters.
The successful development of oyster farming in Santa Catarina is the result of a joint effort of research and support organizations for agricultural activities, such as the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) and the Agricultural Research and Rural Extension Company of Santa Catarina (EPAGRI), and the fishermen of the region.
Currently, UFSC has the only oyster seed laboratory in Brazil producing regularly, which supplies raw materials for all of Brazil. There are also some private ongoing initiatives to set up other laboratories.
The state produces approximately 2 thousand tons of oysters per year. In 2018, the estimated production worth was around R$ 19 million. Although this amount is much lower than other chains, such as pork and poultry, the production of oysters and other shellfish yields income along its chain and drives the local economy, either by establishing specialized restaurants or creating jobs in the delicacy’s processing, distribution, and trading phases. Whoever visits the Ribeirão da Ilha neighborhood in Florianópolis may realize the significance of oyster farming to the region.
This positive effect that the agricultural and cattle-raising production yields in its surroundings, driving the development of other economic activities, also occurs in the Santa Catarina mountain range due to vitiviniculture. A few kilometers from Florianópolis, the region of Bom Retiro is home to several rural properties devoted to the production of grapes and wines.
Due to the region’s unique features, in 2021, the Vinhos de Altitude (High Altitude Wines) of Santa Catarina won the Geographical Indication (GI) seal, granted by the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI). The state’s Wine Route holds surprises for visitors due to the production quality and the outstanding structure created to foster wine tourism and, consequently, economic development.
Still in the Santa Catarina mountains, near the city of São Joaquim, which besides being famous for the occurrence of frosts in winter, is also known as the national apple capital, the diplomats visited Cooperserra, a cooperative that produces and trades the fruit. Founded in 1977, Cooperserra gathers 111 members and produces 18 thousand tons of apples every year.
The state is the second-largest producer of apples in Brazil and, as is the case of the national fruit-growing sector, the Santa Catarina exports are still very low. Although Brazil is the third-largest fruit producer in the world, the country exports less than 3% of its production, which ranks it in the 26th position on the list of major exporters.
After a week of visits to rural properties of different production chains and exchanging views with foreign diplomats, two of these were unanimous among the participants: how Brazil has a diverse agricultural production and the relevance of initiatives like AgroBrazil, which not only promote the sector’s image but create a direct conversation between the productive sector and the international community.
*Sueme Mori is the Director of International Relations at the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA)
This article was originally published in Broadcast.