Rodrigo de Freitas Silva’s coffee farm in the heart of Brazil is flourishing, even during one of the worst price routs in decades.
Over the past dozen years, the 41-year-old has expanded his growing area to 220 hectares (544 acres) from 12.5 hectares, with yields doubling. His whole farm is mechanized, and 90 percent is irrigated. Most important, even as coffee prices globally trade near the lowest in 13 years, Silva is profitable and expects to increase production with potentially higher yields on more land.
“I still have room to triple my coffee-planted area, only considering the farms I already have,” Silva said, while showing a space that will hold a lab to classify coffee on his farm in Jeriquara municipality in Sao Paulo state.
Brazil’s coffee boom is posing huge challenges for coffee farmers in various corners of the world. Many growers, from Nicaragua to Tanzania, produce fewer bags of beans from each hectare, pay higher fertilizer and labor costs, and export at currency rates that aren’t as favorable as that of the Brazilian real. The depreciation of the real has given its exporters more of their local currency for every dollar of coffee shipped overseas, an incentive to grow more.