Lula: No need to cut down a single tree to increase agricultural production in Brazil

By Lisandra Paraguassu

SAO PAULO, August 22 (Reuters)Brazilian presidential favorite Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Monday his country did not need to cut down a single tree to plant more soybeans, sugar cane or raise cattle despite pledging to restore law enforcement in the Amazon rainforest to curb deforestation.

His remarks came as Reuters reported last week that the left-leaning former president’s advisers were offering subsidized “green” agricultural loans to boost the planting of soybeans and corn on open pastures and reduce deforestation in the Amazon.

“If the world is willing to help, keeping a tree standing in the Amazon can be worth more than any (other) investment,” Lula told foreign correspondents in Sao Paulo.

Lula has said he will end the illegal gold mining that has exploded in the Brazilian Amazon under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who is seeking re-election in October’s election.

“Brazil will take care of the climate issue like never before. We want to be responsible for maintaining the climate,” he said.

If elected, his government would strengthen the federal police and restore the institutions weakened by Bolsonaro that are needed to contain deforestation in the Amazon, such as the environmental protection agency Ibama, he said.

Lula pledged to create a ministry of indigenous affairs, saying indigenous peoples would do more to preserve the rainforest if they had more authority.

Asked about a free trade agreement negotiated between South American trading bloc Mercosur and the European Union, which has been stalled by environmental concerns in Brussels, Lula said Brazil should not be rushed to ratify the pact.

“We don’t have to rush to a final deal with the EU,” he said, saying the terms can be “tweaked” to benefit all parties.

Lula favors reopening talks on the deal, which took two decades to broker, adding provisions on the environment, human rights and technology, his top foreign policy adviser told Reuters. , Celso Amorim, last month.

“We cannot give up public procurement because the state would cease to be an engine of economic development,” he said on Monday, advocating the need for a strong role for the state as a catalyst for investment. private sector, while respecting budgetary discipline.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Anthony Boadle and Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Brad Haynes and Tomasz Janowski)

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