As most of the world seeks to modify its energy mix to mitigate climate change, Brazil has also been forced to do so to adapt to the climate crisis whose effects are being felt in the country due to the scarcity of rainfall.
The sea of soybeans that sprouts every November will spread even further in the state of Mato Grosso if three new railway lines that would boost soy production in central-western Brazil and growing parts of the Amazon rainforest are built.
Twenty years after the blackout that prompted nine months of rationing to keep the power grid from collapsing, Brazil may see a repeat of the traumatic situation, this time with a more obvious climate change undertone.
Health, fiscal, environmental and political crises have not prevented Brazil from attracting private capital to expand infrastructure, according to the sector's minister, Tarcísio de Freitas.
"Rainfall is fundamental; the streams and rivers we have would not suffice for irrigation, even if they were the Amazon River," said Dirceu Dezem, referring to the amount of water required for the extensive crops in Brazil’s midwest.
"Biogas is worth gold to us, we can no longer live without it," Claudete Volkswey, a poultry farmer in the municipality of Toledo, in the southwestern state of Paraná, Brazil, said enthusiastically about the new source of energy that has allowed her to get a good night’s sleep again, because she no longer has to get up to stoke the fire every two hours.
"We are no longer familiar with the Xingú River," whose waters govern "our way of life, our income, our food and our navigation," lamented Bel Juruna, a young indigenous leader from Brazil´s Amazon rainforest.
"Showing solidarity is consuming the energy generated in your own municipality" - this is the motto of a project of distributed electricity generation in one of Brazil's many poor neighbourhoods.
No one died of hunger during the worst drought in Brazil's semiarid ecoregion, between 2011 and 2018, in sharp contrast to the past when scarce rainfall caused deaths, looting, a mass exodus to the South and bloody conflicts.
After centuries of poverty, marginalisation from national development policies and a lack of support for positive local practices and projects, the semiarid regions of Latin America are preparing to forge their own agricultural paths by sharing knowledge, in a new and unprecedented initiative.
Solar energy has continued to expand in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic and should contribute to the economic recovery in the wake of the health crisis.
Electric transport, still limited in Latin America despite its urban benefits, could expand during the post-pandemic economic recovery, says Adalberto Maluf, president of the Brazilian Association of Electric Vehicles (ABVE).
The first priority in the COVID-19 pandemic was to save lives, in an effort to avoid even more devastating economic losses if strict lockdown and isolation were not put in place.
"It used to be complicated, I would have lunch with the flies," recalls Pedro Colombari, laughing, on his 400-hectare farm where he fattens 5,000 pigs and raises 400 cattle outside of a small town in southern Brazil.
"Slave labour is not declining; it has taken on new forms and is growing; it expanded to new sectors where it did not previously exist," said Ivanete da Silva Sousa, an activist in the fight against modern-day slavery in northern Brazil.
Fomenting biogas production among agricultural producers may seem at first glance to be a distraction from the purpose of Itaipu, the giant hydroelectric power plant shared by Brazil and Paraguay, but in fact it is part of their energy business strategy.
"They're the ideal duo," because the combination of solar and biogas sources makes it possible to provide electricity around the clock, one during the day and the other at night, says Anelio Thomazzoni, a pig farmer who has become a producer of clean energy in southwestern Brazil.
"They called me crazy" for fencing in the area where the cows went to drink water, said Elias Cardoso, on his 67-hectare farm in Extrema, a municipality 110 km from São Paulo, Brazil's largest metropolis.
"Biogas is the best energy, it has no contraindications," and if you combine it with solar it becomes "the best energy business," at least in Brazil, says Anélio Thomazzoni.
The state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil is the largest national producer and exporter of pork and this year it also leads in exports of chicken, of which it is the second-biggest producer in the country.
Biogas has the potential to provide 36 percent of the electricity consumed in Brazil or replace 70 percent of diesel if purified as biomethane, according to the Brazilian Association of Biogas and Biomethane (Abiogas).