Schmidt Agricola is a large agricultural company producing soybeans, corn and cotton in Bahia, Brazil, one of the country's new-frontier agricultural areas fit for large-scale, high-tech farming. Production of the chocolate-making ingredient is expanding outside of the main growing area in West Africa as farmers in places such Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia see potential profit in the crop. It also poses a threat to the livelihood of small farmers in Africa since recently planted orchards such as the ones in South America are more productive, reducing the overall cost of production.
Germany's Bayer has forecast that between 10% to 15% of Brazil's soybean area will be sowed with its genetically modified biotech seed Intacta2 Xtend in the 2023/24 season, said Fernando Prudente, who oversees soybeans and cotton for the company in Brazil. Bayer's Intacta2 Xtend seed is designed to tolerate herbicides including glyphosate and dicamba and protects the plant against caterpillars. Brazil's soybean planting area totaled 44 million hectares (108.7 million acres) in the 2022/23 season, according to crop agency Conab.
Chinese cotton buyers are buying up Australian product in anticipation the unofficial ban that decimated Australian cotton exports to China could lift amid a diplomatic thaw that has already seen trade resume in other sanctioned commodities. Australian cotton is being shipped to a bonded warehouse in Qingdao and possibly one other location, by the Australian subsidiary of China National Cotton Group Corporation, one of the biggest state-owned Chinese cotton buyers, CNCGC Australia merchant Tom Zheng told Reuters. If not, companies in the duty free zones can use the product for re-export.