As Adair Antonio Boldrin’s hands run gently through the waist-high soybean plants, his gaze shifts to the horizon – this is how far his land stretches. And it is just a fraction of his farmland. Boldrin also owns four other soybean and corn production units. Altogether, his fields cover about 10,000 hectares. In today’s Brazil, that makes Boldrin a medium-scale farmer. In Western Europe, his enterprise would be considered a large business.
A Life’s Work
Boldrin is clearly proud of his life’s work. His wife Arci, who has been at his side along the way, shares his pride. And all the while, the Boldrin’s have remained firmly on the ground – and it shows. Because even though the couple now produces soybeans on a grand scale, little details characteristic of a typical small farm can still be found all over their land. Sheep and cattle husbandry are Boldrin’s passion. The cow’s milk is used for cheese production. The driveway to the main house is well taken care of and flanked by road markers and tall trees. Free-range chickens peck for grains between them, and the grunt of pigs can be heard coming from somewhere on the property. The place is filled with a feeling of warmth and cordiality, of love for the land and the people.
The Boldrins have worked hard to achieve this felicity. When they first came to Rio Verde in the state of Goiás, they had nothing. “In the beginning we lacked everything. There was no lime, no fertilizer – and there were neither roads, nor any silos,” Boldrin recalls. That was about 30 years ago. At the time, Brazil’s Central-West Region was still a typical savannah landscape, known as the “Cerrado,” with vast, unpopulated areas that could be bought at bargain prices. The Boldrins were among the many people who came from southern Brazil to seek their fortune. The natural vegetation was transformed for agricultural cultivation, and the soil, initially not very fertile, was enriched with lime and phosphorus. Today, the region is the world’s largest soy-producing area.
In Love with Soy
Passion for the Land
Before coming to the Cerrado, Boldrin spent the 1970s and 1980s working in the administration of a large cooperative in southern Brazil. When the influx began to the Central-Western Region, his brother and parents were drawn to Goiás first. Boldrin helped from afar with the financial management of their agricultural enterprises. In 1988 he followed with his wife and children, and a few years later he was running his own agricultural operation. Today, Boldrin is one of the largest propagators of new seed varieties.
Despite his success story, Boldrin complains about the same problems as other grain farmers in the country: “We are 950 kilometers away from the port of Santos and about 1,600 kilometers from Paranagua. So getting our harvest onto the world market is not easy and relatively expensive.” In fact, the logistics of the harvest make up the greatest expense after equipment and fuel. According to Boldrin, logistics amount to about 25 percent of the price his soybeans can fetch. “If we had lower costs, we could invest more in the fields and increase our profitability,” he says. In Brazil’s south, the problem isn’t as pronounced. Farmers there are closer to the ports and can transport their harvest by rail – a mode of transport that is lacking in the Central West.
In spite of these challenges, the Boldrins wouldn’t trade their luck for anything. “He’s in love with soy,” says Arci Boldrin of her husband. “It fascinates him to watch the plants grow. When they suffer from drought, he suffers too.” And when the rain comes and the soybean fields are revived, Adair Antonio Boldrin’s heart is also filled with life.
In the beginning we lacked everything. There was no lime, no fertilizer – and there were neither roads, nor any silos.