Brasilia | Reuters — At least 11 ships are facing delays in loading soybeans at Brazil’s northern ports after rains washed out roads and disrupted the progress of trucks carrying beans from the centre-west region, Brazilian officials said on Thursday.
Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said some commodities traders could have problems fulfilling soy export contracts due to the transportation problems.
But authorities said emergency work on BR-163, the main road linking the soy fields in Mato Grosso to northern export terminals, has allowed trucks to start resuming their trips.
Thousands of soy-filled trucks have been stuck in mud in recent days as torrential rains damaged an unpaved stretch of the road.
The washout has been a major setback for companies operating this relatively new route for Brazilian soy exports. Historically, traders would use roads to the southern ports of Santos and Paranagua, but recent investments in port terminals to the north have been aimed at cutting transportation costs.
All major traders including Bunge, Cargill and Amaggi have operations using the new route, with trucks taking BR-163 to a terminal in the Miritituba district in Para state. From there, barges carry beans down the Tapajos river to ports in the Belem area for loading on transoceanic ships.
“Some traders will probably have to source soy elsewhere to fulfill their export contracts,” Maggi told reporters Thursday.
He said some 600,000 tonnes of soybeans had already been diverted to southern ports after issues with the northern route.
“The profit that was almost guaranteed from a good harvest is going down the drain,” he said, referring to an expected boon for farmers and trading companies.
Brazil’s soy industry association Abiove says 11 soy export contracts have been canceled so far due to beans delayed on their way to ports in Belem. Abiove estimated 350 million reais (C$149 million) of losses for the sector so far.
Brazilian farmers have harvested about 40 per cent of planted area in this year’s expected record crop. The world’s largest soybean exporter is expected to produce around 104 million tonnes of beans.
— Reporting for Reuters by Leonardo Goy; writing by Marcelo Teixeira.