Brazilian imports of agrochemicals increased 36% in the first half of 2019, compared to the first six months of 2018, as US$ 1.11 billion in pesticides were purchased from abroad. In volume, the increase was 24%, according to Secex (Secretariat of Foreign Trade), a Brazilian government agency linked to the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade.

Fungicides were the fastest-growing imports, expanding by no less than 60% in US dollars over the previous year. According to the Anti-Rust Consortium, the increase is due to the advance of Asian soybean rust, which is the largest and most serious problem faced by Brazilian farmers when raising this crop.

For instance, annual costs for soybean rust control exceeded US$ 2.8 billion each crop. While in the 2003/04 season 1.5 applications were made, in the 2017/18 season this rose to 3.4 sprayings.

According to the Anti-Rust Consortium, an initiative of Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), this fungal disease can spread rapidly throughout the country, forcing growers to increase their spraying. Another problem that has been widely reported in this planting is the growing resistance of fungus to products available on the market.

The largest Brazilian spending on fungicide imports was in France, according to Secex’s list. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, India and Colombia, were also at the top of the list of main suppliers to Brazil in this product class.

As for other pesticide classes, there was a 27% increase in herbicide imports in the first half of 2019, with the United States and India being the main supplier countries. Insecticide purchases rose 32% during the year, totaling US $ 519 million, with the majority of purchases in China and the United States.

According to experts, the surge in pesticide imports this year is due to a replenishment of inventories – which were very low in the previous season. According to sources, to improve their balance sheets, industries have increased the supply of products to distributors in recent years, leaving the market well supplied.