September 18, 2009
Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the proposal, which will be voted on by Congress next year, would limit sugar growing to an area of 66 million hectares (163 million acres), or 7.5 percent of Brazil. Presently Brazil has about 9 million ha (22 million acres) of cane plantations, which make it both the world's large producer of sugar and cane ethanol, but the country expects to expand this by 6 million ha (15 million acres) over the next decade to meet rising demand for biofuels.
Sugarcane-based ethanol is used widely in Brazil, accounting for more than 20 percent of Brazil's transport fuel market. Nearly all new cars sold in the country are capable of running on conventional oil, ethanol-gasoline mix ("gasohol") or bioethanol. The move has helped Brazil move towards energy independence — it has effectively replaced more than a quarter of its gasoline demand with sugar-cane based fuel grown on 5 percent of its crop area.
Net energy yield for various crops