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Climate change impacts Brazilian agricultural zones

In Brazil, the Programa Nacional de Zoneamento Agrícola de Risco Climático (ZARC) has been established to identify low-risk agricultural zones and optimal planting times, considering the escalating climate change threats. This initiative, which now includes onions as its first vegetable, aims to guide farmers towards areas and periods less susceptible to climatic adversities, thereby enhancing productivity and reducing losses.

According to Embrapa Vegetables' Marcos Braga, "ZARC shows low-risk areas and times of the year for the implementation and production of the crop in Brazil, with the aim of subsidising producers with information on agro-climatic risks to reduce production losses and obtain higher yields."

Adherence to ZARC's zoning recommendations not only minimizes the risk of climate-related adversities for farmers but also qualifies them for benefits under the Programa de Garantia da Atividade Agropecuária (Proagro) and the Programa de Subvenção ao prêmio do Seguro Rural (PSR). Additionally, financial institutions often condition rural credit on compliance with ZARC zoning, particularly for medium-sized producers under the National Support Program for Medium Rural Producers (Pronamp).

Onions, a staple in Brazilian cuisine and cultivated across various regions, predominantly in the South and parts of the Southeast, Central-West, and Northeast, account for about 95% of the country's production. Despite its ubiquity in Brazilian dishes, the nation ranks 13th globally in onion production, with an annual yield of approximately 1.6 billion tons. The diverse climate across Brazil's vast territory allows for multiple onion harvests annually, catering primarily to the domestic market from March to November.


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