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SAO PAULO: The Brazilian government will introduce measures to boost production of next season’s summer corn, which will be planted in late 2021 in key growing regions, its latest bid to raise domestic supplies, an Agriculture Ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Silvio Farnese, the ministry’s trade and supply director, said by telephone that measures are not yet finalized but may be announced in May. They could include offering more credit, crop insurance and trade support mechanisms for corn farmers to raise production.

“Brazil is expected to increase corn and soy production to record volumes this year,” Farnese said. “But that growth will not entail an expected fall in prices.”

Brazil’s total corn production will be around 103 million tonnes this season. Summer corn, the first crop of the year that is planted concurrently with soybeans, once represented the bulk of the country’s output, but now accounts for about 22%.

The measures are a response to strong global demand for food and Brazil’s currency weakness, which continues to prop up the country’s grain export prospects while reducing domestic availability of basic staples and feed ingredients.

Last year, the government temporarily eliminated corn, rice and soy import duties from suppliers outside the Mercosur South American trade bloc to raise internal supplies. Yet that did not prevent retail oilseed and cereal prices from spiking 60% in 2020, according to IBGE, the government’s statistics bureau.

Farnese said Brazil - the world’s second biggest corn exporter - will not extend the corn tariff import exemption set to expire on March 31. Building up grain reserves, as has been done in the past to regulate prices in the inter-harvest period, is also not an option, he said, citing costs associated with this effort.

The official also ruled out export curbs to increase internal food supplies.

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