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Sugar and ethanol production as a rural development strategy in Brazil: Evidence from the state of São Paulo


  • Martinelli, Luiz A.
  • Garrett, Rachael
  • Ferraz, Silvio
  • Naylor, Rosamond


Sugar and ethanol production are key components of Brazil's rural development and energy strategies, yet in recent years sugar production has been widely criticized for its environmental and labor practices. This study examines the relationship between rural development and sugarcane, ethanol, and cattle production in the state of São Paulo. Our results suggest that the value added components of sugarcane production, which include sugar refining and ethanol production, may have a strong positive affect on local human development in comparison to primary agricultural production activities and other land uses. These results imply that sugar production, when accompanied by a local processing industry can stimulate rural development. However, this paper also highlights the significant environmental and social harms generated by the sugar industry at large, which may undermine its development benefits if not addressed.

Suggested Citation

  • Martinelli, Luiz A. & Garrett, Rachael & Ferraz, Silvio & Naylor, Rosamond, 2011. "Sugar and ethanol production as a rural development strategy in Brazil: Evidence from the state of São Paulo," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(5), pages 419-428, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:104:y:2011:i:5:p:419-428

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joaquim J. M. Guilhoto, 2004. "The Regional (State Level) Importance Of The Agribusiness Gdp In The Brazilian Economy," Anais do XXXII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 32nd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 119, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    2. Guimaraes, Edilson, 2008. "Brazilian Agribusiness (PowerPoint)," Agricultural Outlook Forum 2008 37391, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Outlook Forum.
    3. da Motta, Ronaldo Seroa & da Rocha Ferreira, Leo, 1988. "The Brazilian national alcohol programme : An economic reappraisal and adjustments," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 229-234, July.
    4. Cerqueira Leite, Rogério Cezar de & Verde Leal, Manoel Regis Lima & Barbosa Cortez, Luís Augusto & Griffin, W. Michael & Gaya Scandiffio, Mirna Ivonne, 2009. "Can Brazil replace 5% of the 2025 gasoline world demand with ethanol?," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 655-661.
    5. de Oliveira, Adilson, 1991. "Reassessing the Brazilian alcohol programme," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 47-55.
    6. Chaddad, Fabio Ribas & Jank, Marcos Sawaya, 2006. "The Evolution of Agricultural Policies and Agribusiness Development in Brazil," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 21(2).
    7. Saint, William S., 1982. "Farming for energy: social options under Brazil's National Alcohol Programme," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 223-238, March.
    8. Sperling, Daniel, 1987. "Brazil, ethanol and the process of system change," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 11-23.
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    Cited by:

    1. Su, Shiliang & Hu, Yi’na & Luo, Fanghan & Mai, Gengchen & Wang, Yaping, 2014. "Farmland fragmentation due to anthropogenic activity in rapidly developing region," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 87-93.
    2. Ribeiro, Barbara Esteves, 2013. "Beyond commonplace biofuels: Social aspects of ethanol," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 355-362.
    3. Tokunaga, Kanae & Konan, Denise Eby, 2014. "Home grown or imported? Biofuels life cycle GHG emissions in electricity generation and transportation," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 123-131.
    4. repec:spr:endesu:v:19:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s10668-016-9823-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:rensus:v:77:y:2017:i:c:p:1046-1054 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:rensus:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:347-362 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Salgado Junior, Alexandre Pereira & Carlucci, Fabio Vogelaar & Grespan Bonacim, Carlos Alberto & Novi, Juliana Chiaretti & Pacagnella Junior, Antonio Carlos, 2014. "Investment Potential for New Sugarcane Plants in Brazil Based on Assessment of Operational Efficiency," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 17(2).


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