Highway quagmires along Brazil’s national highway, the BR-163, have stopped soybean exports from reaching their principal ports. The highway stretches between Brazil’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul up to the northern coast of Pará.
The principal soybean-producing states all send their products through this 3,467 km road. Leaving primarily from Mato Grosso, the trucks end their journey at the five major ports of Pará. From there, boats filled with Brazilian soybeans embark for other countries. The ports’ capacity is about 16 million tons, 30 percent of Brazil’s total soybean export.
However, quagmires have rendered 37 km of the connecting highway unusable. Lines of trucks waiting to pass stretch up to 50 km alone. In addition, despite starting construction over 15 years ago, another stretch of 189 km still hasn’t been paved. To finish off the project, the government would have to budget another $640 million.
Transporters have refused to take their wares to the Pará port due to high fares and security risks. They may opt to travel to the further ports of Santos and Paranagué, despite higher costs.
Each truck can carry about 50 tons of soybean product. For each ton, truckers receive about $64. If the estimated 500 truckers that typically head to Pará switch instead to southern ports, it could cost up to $800,000 more per day.