Global Teleconnections of Food and Land Use: The China-Brazil Connection
CitationCimini, Anna. 2016. Global Teleconnections of Food and Land Use: The China-Brazil Connection. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractChina’s current nutrition transition to increased meat consumption has subsequently set in motion the need for increased imports of soybean for use in livestock feeds as in-country soybean production decreases but direct consumption of soybean stays relatively stable. Much of the required soybean has come from areas in Brazil that have undergone expansive conversion to agriculture, altering bio-diverse savannah ecosystems where soybean is most heavily produced, such as in Mato Grosso state. As China increases dependence on Brazil for soybean used in livestock systems, how may this shift affect land use in Brazil? What if this amount of soybean was used for direct consumption instead?
My research first investigates the trade relationship between China and Brazil and then calculates the soybean allocation use in China, with estimates of Brazil-derived soybean required for both feed and food use to 2050. This projection analysis showed a range between 55 and 203 million metric tons of Brazil-derived soybean needed for livestock feed use by 2050, a 90%-600% increase from current trends, requiring 18-68 million hectares of soybean cropland under present yields in Brazil.
I then compare soybean, pork, and poultry production with respect to protein content and soybean land use requirements under a range of future protein demands and increased population growth in China. Soybean, pork and poultry production to 2050 were estimated and compared in terms of protein content; for pork and poultry this included soymeal used in livestock feed. Protein demand baseline was set to the current rate of 36 kg per capita per year, with a range of minus 10% to plus 20% from baseline. The requisite hectares of land needed to produce soybean was then calculated. Increased per capita protein demand in the food supply appears to have the largest impact on soybean cropland requirement under this analysis, compared to projected population growth. The 2030 soybean scenario met between 38%-95% of the protein demand projected for China using the current-day production pattern in Brazil of 33 million hectares. Pork and poultry would need to increase in production by 74% and 291% respectively to have similarly high protein efficiency when compared to direct soybean use under these scenarios; this increase would require a range of 91-137 million metric tons of soybean and 30-45 million hectares of land for feed use in China.
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