Brazilian agricultural offensive, tobacco harvest in Zimbabwe and Turkey’s troubles

Africa’s largest tobacco producer, Zimbabwe, has started its annual harvest season. Officials and farmers are expecting a significant reduction in harvests and poorer quality due to the impact of climate change-related drought and the El Niño weather phenomenon. Last year, the record harvest amounted to almost 300 million kg; however, this season, production will drop to approximately 235 million kg. Zimbabwe relies heavily on tobacco exports, which are one of the primary sources of income for the country and its people ($1.2 billion last year).

Due to the problematic trade talks between the Mercosur bloc and the European Union, Brazilian authorities are considering expanding agricultural exports to new markets in India and Africa. Brazil plans to export fruits, juices, coffee, and black beans to Asian countries, and meat and cereals to African countries. In recent months, Brazil has already started exporting beef, pork, and poultry to the Philippines, and has found 96 new foreign markets for its products.

Turkish farmers are taking out more loans to maintain their farms due to many years of inflation (which was as high as 127% last year) and the lack of sufficient state aid. The amount farmers owe to banks increased by 80% last year, with a total of USD 22 billion owed to banks, the Ministry of Agriculture, and private companies. Despite these challenges, agriculture still accounts for 5.8% of Turkey’s economic output, compared to 1.4% in the European Union. The agricultural sector in the United States is also facing a crisis, with over 140,000 farm bankruptcies over the last five years. This is partly due to a flawed labour acquisition system and the H-2A visa system.

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